Top Philippine leaders back automated polls in 2013
Manila, Philippines, June 20th, 2012.- The Philippines is gearing up for its second general automated elections next year as its top leaders have expressed strong support for the continued use of the Smartmatic's voting machines which was at the heart of the republic's first automated elections in 2010.
The Supreme Court, with the justices voting 11-3, had ruled that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) can buy and reuse the voting machines, which it had leased from technology provider Smartmatic to automate the 2010 polls.
President Benigno Aquino, whose victory in the last polls was one of the most convincing in Philippine history, had said that the country stands to benefit greatly by way of credible poll results if it maximizes the use of Smartmatic's voting machines. This view was shared by Vice President Jejomar Binay who was quoted as saying that the automated elections "reflect the votes of the Filipino people."
At the House of Representatives, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. had earlier said that lawmakers are united in supporting the Comelec's decision to exercise their option to purchase the counting machines.
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile expressed his belief that the voting machines "are still better than going back to the old manual system. We have tried it. We elected a president, vice president, 12 senators, many governors and executives." He commended Comelec and Smartmatic saying that "they did their best to produce and give to us a clean and honest election."
Senator Francis Escudero, chairman of the Justice Committee, is also convinced that the voting machines provided by Smartmatic gives accurate count and he is optimistic that the 2013 elections would be glitch-free after the Supreme Court has approved the purchase of the machines.
The Carter Center, an international group advocating democracy through transparent elections, reported that "the Philippines May 2010 elections were marked by relatively high public confidence and trust in the use of optical mark recognition technology. Such a success is a credit to the hard work of COMELEC and Smartmatic as well as the commitment of the people of the Philippines toward increasingly transparent elections."
The United States government, through its Manila Embassy, hailed the Philippines for "achieving another milestone in the nation's democratic history" while European Union Ambassador to the Philippines Alistair MacDonald said that the "process was carried out smoothly, and the results transmitted rapidly."