Arroyo signs poll automation bill into law
By Joel Guinto
First Posted 14:27:00 03/23/2009
MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATE) President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed into law on Monday the P11.3-billion supplemental budget that would allow the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to automate the 2010 polls, her political adviser said.
“We see no more obstacles to the implementation by Comelec of a fully automated election system that will ensure honest, efficient, and credible polls next year,” Presidential Political Adviser Gabriel Claudio said in a statement.
“With the enactment of the budget into law, the President is living up to her commitment to modernize the electoral process through automation in order to safeguard the true will of the Filipino electorate,” Claudio said.
With the Comelec doing away with the long and tedious manual count, Claudio said the 2010 elections would be a “landmark democratic exercise” that would hopefully bring “greater political stability” to the country.
The President signed Republic Act 9525 or the supplemental budget law a week before the April deadline of the Comelec to pass the measure, in order for it to fully automate the elections.
The Comelec had been pushing for the automation of the elections to curb cheating.
The last general elections in 2004, wherein Arroyo won a fresh six-year term, was plagued with allegations of massive cheating involving some military officials.
The alleged cheating operations were exposed when purported wiretapped phone conversations between Arroyo and then elections commissioner Virgilio Garcillano were leaked in June 2005. The calls allegedly took place during the 2004 canvass.
Arroyo never directly addressed the alleged cheating but apologized to the nation in a televised address for having called an elections official, whom she did not name, and called the action a “lapse in judgment.”
The three generals that allegedly helped her cheat, as mentioned in the so-called “Hello Garci” tapes, were cleared by a military fact-finding board but its report was never made public. A fourth general mentioned in the tape was allegedly supportive of Arroyo’s chief rival, movie actor Fernando Poe Jr.
Poe died seven months after the May 2004 elections, and because of his death, the Supreme Court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) stopped hearing the protest he filed.
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