By ERWIN COLCOL | GMA News Online
The proposed law mandating a combination of a manual and automated elections should be approved by this month if the country would implement such procedure in the upcoming 2022 elections, an election official said.
Commissioner Marlon Casquejo of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) made the remark on Wednesday during the deliberations of the House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms on the proposals for the hybrid elections.
Casquejo said that while the Comelec would leave it to Congress to decide on the proposals, he stressed the importance of passing these measures as soon as possible.
"Time is of the essence in this case. In our preparation for the use of the AES (automated election system) for 2022 elections, we are already in the second phase in the procurement process," he said.
"So we suggest that if this law will be passed, it should be passed by this month. That is what we told the Senate during [their] hearing because there are so many preparations we need to do," he added.
In pushing for the hybrid elections, Samar Representative Edgar Mary Sarmiento, one of the proponents of the measures, claimed that the integrity of the PCOS machines is questionable.
Sarmiento's proposal is to conduct manual voting and accounting at the precinct level, and automated transmission and canvassing in the national, local, and Bangsamoro Autonomous Region and Muslim Mindanao elections.
This, he said, is simply to "make sure that the integrity of the elections will no longer be questioned."
"I am hoping that the House bill will be passed into law since our counterpart in the Senate has already passed in the committee level a similar bill on the hybrid elections," he added.
But Casquejo said that even if the proposed measures for hybrid elections do not get approved, the Comelec will still put up additional security measures for the conduct of the 2022 polls, including the transmission of voters' receipt and the implementation of the digital signatures of the electoral board.
These, among other measures, will increase the transparency of the elections, Casquejo said.
"Then again, if this law will be passed, the Comelec is ready to perform its duties and functions with regards to the election," he added.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III earlier said that the proposed hybrid elections, along with the reimposition of death penalty and the creation of a Department of OFWs, are among the priority legislation of the Senate this year. — BM, GMA News