ALL SYSTEMS GO FOR ABSENTEE VOTING, POLL MODERNIZATION

Manila, April 22, 2003 -- Senate President Franklin Drilon yesterday said the Commission on Election has no option but to implement the absentee voting act in the 2004 presidential elections.

Drilon said the law mandates that absentee voting must be implemented next year and ample budget would be allocated in this year's national budget for the implementation of the law.

"Sa susunod na halalan sa susunod na taon, ang budget po ay aming pag-uusapan sa Hulyo at Agosto hanggang Setyembre nitong taong ito kaya madadagdagan po ang budget para sa halalan talaga sa 2004," Drilon said.

This as the Senate unanimously approved on third reading Senate Bill 2526 authorizing the Commission on Elections to push through with the automation of the electoral system.

Voting 17-0, with no abstention, the Senate adopted SB 2526 which seeks to amend the Automated Election Law or Republic Act 8436 mandating the Comelec to use the already obsolete Optical Mark Reader counting machine.

Sen. Aquilino Pimentel, sponsor and co-author of SB 2526, said the bill would give Comelec the flexibility to rent or buy counting machines and to choose the type or model that is appropriate to the prevailing conditions in the country.

The approval of the measure came after lawmakers expressed their sentiments against the purchase of the optical mark reader counting machines by the Comelec because they are likely to become outmoded or obsolete after a few years due to rapid advancement in information and computer technology.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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