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Poll Automation Oversight Committee to summon Comelec, Smartmatic – Chiz

By Office of Senator Chiz Escudero
June 2, 2009

PASAY CITY  –  Opposition Sen. Chiz Escudero yesterday said the joint congressional oversight committee will summon officials of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and the remaining bidder to answer questions on the poll counting machines to be used for the 2010 elections.

“Now that it seems there will be a winning bidder, it would be good to hear from them the answers to simple questions related to the implementation of the poll automation,” he said.

Escudero, who is co-chair of the oversight committee, said the hearing will be held in the next two weeks and will focus on the technology and capability of the winning bidder to effectively and fully implement the automation of the elections.

“I still have to be convinced that poll automation will be fail-safe. In a closely-contested election, there can be no margin for error. We cannot afford to have a repeat of 2004,” he said.

Escudero has called for partial automation of the elections, warning that the country was not prepared to conduct full automation at this time.

Only the consortium of Smartmatic and Total Information Management Corp. (TIM) remains in the running for the P11.3-billion automation contract. On Monday, the AMA Group of Companies and Election System and Software (ES&S) withdrew its bid offer, complaining that the SBAC changed the bid requirements too late in the process.

SBAC chair Ferdinand Rafanan has said that he expect the committee to submit its recommendations after the post-qualification screening is completed early this week.