AES Watch
January 18, 2010

Comelec is not ready for AES; prepare contingency plan NOW!

The citizens’ appraisal of the Comelec’s preparations for the first automated elections in the Philippines has been presented by the AES Watch based on the paramount concern of holding and ensuring clean, transparent and credible elections on May 10. The appraisal shows that Comelec and its consortium partner, Smartmatic-TIM, are not prepared to fully automate the May 2010 elections, putting the coming elections at great risk because of delays and lack of safeguards in the preparatory stage.

With only less than four months left, this ill-preparedness of Comelec and its lack of contingency plans compromise the trustworthiness and credibility of the whole automated election system. Important provisions of the election modernization law and Terms of Reference (ToR) have not been complied with and the minimum standard requirements that would allow poll automation to work are not met.

Moreover, based on section 11 of the Automated Election Law, three months before Election Day or on February 10, 2010, “the AES, including its hardware and software components, should be certified as operating properly, securely and accurately in accordance with the provisions of the law…”

It is clear that, as of January 15, 2010 based on the appraisal of the 20 points of concerns in the Star scorecard, many provisions of the law and ToR have been ignored and AES implementation is already way past the calendar that has been revised 6 times. By this time it appears that the COMELEC is being confronted by insurmountable challenges especially with regard to the AES implementation. If the pattern of delays continues, the trustworthiness of the election system is put to greater risk and vulnerability. This may result not only in resource wastage but will also undermine the whole electoral process thus affecting its credibility.

For this, the COMELEC, as the country’s premier election manager, should be held accountable, while recognizing that the poll body is now hard pressed for time and lacks the necessary expertise to fully automate the 2010 elections. Corrective measures must be quickly undertaken to avoid the pitfalls of automation. Time is of the essence now – there are only just 110 days to go before Election Day!

We speak with one voice and with serious concerns about the fate of the coming elections. The Comelec is not prepared. While there is time, a contingency plan should be made to work NOW! Voters’ rights should be a paramount concern.

In our homes, schools, communities and workplaces, let us double efforts to prepare the people for the May election. On January 27, 2010, the next Joint Congressional Oversight Committee (JCOC) hearing is set. Let us bring our voices together and help ensure that election on May 10 is held as scheduled without fail.

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