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Commentary: PGMA's election automation gains headway with ARMM polls' success

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's 10-point legacy agenda, specifically on the poll automation for a stronger democracy founded on the sanctity of the ballot, gained headway with the success of the first-ever automated elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) last Monday.

The President, in the said agenda, has included the automation of the electoral process, through the use of the latest technology for voting, counting, canvassing, transmission of election results, in a move to make polls fraud-free.

"Having proven its worth in the ARMM, poll automation will now be replicated on a wider scale with a view to assuring our people that come 2010, the conduct of national elections will be immensely improved," Ermita said.

The Executive Secretary noted that except for some minor technical glitches in last Monday's ARMM automated polls, overall, the country's pilot-testing of a fully automated elections was a great success as it was honest, peaceful and orderly.

Ermita expressed hope that by the 2010 national elections, these minor glitches, "normally experienced in pilot exercises," will be fully addressed.

"We have now seen the future of the Philippine electoral process, and it works!-bereft of any taint of suspicion and disarray, and truly free, peaceful, orderly and clean," Ermita said, adding that the President was happy over the conduct of the ARMM polls.

"The President was particularly pleased with information from the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) that the said elections registered a high 80-percent voter turn-out, and was relatively free of violence and complaints. This is in total contrast to previous elections in the area that were marred with violence, complaints, controversies, and alleged disenfranchisement of voter," the Executive Secretary said.

"The President congratulates the COMELEC, headed by Chairman Jose Melo, for the successful exercise; the police and military authorities in the area for their support to the COMELEC which made violence almost non-existent; and most importantly, the residents of ARMM who, by their active participation, showed that democracy reigns supreme," he added.

Ermita said he was informed by Melo that the final results of Monday's polls will be out this afternoon even as he said that the credibility of the ARMM polls is "beyond question" as various poll watch organizations that included the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV), among other non-government organizations, can attest to the fact that "the will of the residents of ARMM has been respected."

Automated elections were held from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the six provinces of the ARMM-Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Shariff Kabunsuan, Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi. There were about 1.5 million registered voters in the region.

Two systems, namely, the Direct Recording Election and Optical Media Reader, were specifically used in the ARMM polls.

The new election system prevents cheating; and the quick release of results makes the system more credible than the manual elections where several methods of massive fraud are able to pass through. (PIA-MMIO) [top]

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