Monday, March 8, 2010

“COMELEC’s misplaced confidence on the smooth implementation of the Automated Election System or AES in Hong Kong and Singapore is far from reassuring

This was declared today by Cynthia Abdon-Tellez, chairperson of Gabriela Women’s Party – HK as the COMELEC unveiled its plans for the AES in the two countries a few weeks ahead of its commencement on April 10.
“Glitches have been found in the test run on the AES done in Manila already. Compounded by the fact that no similar testing has been done overseas, COMELEC’s overconfidence may, in the end, result to derailing the democratic right to vote of the more than 130,000 voters in Hong Kong and Singapore,” she added.
Tellez said that it will be unfair for OFWs in Hong Kong and Singapore to become “lab rats for the AES” as the OAV will be conducted a month ahead of the national polls. She remarked that with hitches still unresolved, there is a big chance that the AES will not only slow down the election process, but worse, cause its failure in the said countries.
“You don’t play with our inalienable right to vote. If the AES is not working as it is foreseen to be, then the COMELEC must immediately do something about it instead of giving false reassurances of its success," she chided.
The group expressed that their worries on the AES is compounded by the lack of any backup plans if in case the AES breaks down during the election and counting period.
“As they said, HK and Singapore’s combined voters is 21% of the total registered OFW voters. If worse comes to worst, then 21% of the OAV voters will not be able to participate in the electoral process,” Tellez expressed.
Additionally, Tellez hit the COMELEC for waiting up to the last stretch before starting the preparations for the AES abroad. Yesterday, the commission announced the holding of trainings of deputized DFA personnel on the AES only this coming March in Hong Kong.
“As usual, the COMELEC is cutting it close. While trained election officers are necessary, how about information and education among voters? Last Sunday in our rounds among OFWs, it became evident that many OFWs are still unaware of the AES, what the process of voting is and how to make sure that their votes can be counted as valid,” she relayed.
Tellez said that these shortcomings may yet again result to disenfranchisement of OFWs like what happened during the registration period wherein the lack of massive information dissemination campaign has resulted to dismal turnout. Only the intervention of many OFW organizations in Hong Kong upped the rate on the last few weeks of the registration period.
“Promises are cheap. The COMELEC should just do its job swiftly and properly,” she concluded.#

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