Plans to postpone the 2016 elections were met with vehement opposition from Malacañang, election watchdogs and Information Technology (IT) experts.
But the Palace quashed fears of a no-election scenario on Thursday, saying the polls must push through in May as scheduled.
Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said they are confident that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) will be able to pull off an “uneventful” electoral exercise on May 9.
“We trust that the Comelec will exert all efforts to ensure the orderly conduct of the national elections while complying with the Constitution and with the Supreme Court decision,” Coloma told reporters.
Lito Averia, an IT expert from the National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel), said postponing the elections is not an acceptable option.
He noted that the Comelec’s failure to prepare a contingency plan is the reason why it is having problems in complying with the SC order.
Averia explained that while the voter verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) feature can easily be enabled in the software that will be used by the vote counting machines (VCMs), the challenge is how it will be rolled out in the hardware because the new machines do not have a switch that will enable them to print receipts.
“Postponing the elections is one of the scenarios the [Comelec] is looking at but I don’t think that is an acceptable option,” he said.
Professor Ramon Casiple, an executive director of another poll watchdog, Institute for Political and Electoral Reform (IPER), said the Comelec may have a valid concern regarding the VVPAT but not pushing through with the May 9 elections can lead to more serious problems.
Casiple added that the Comelec may no longer have time to comply with the SC ruling because aside from reconfiguring the vote counting machines, the poll body will also have to train members of the Board of Election Inspectors (BEI).
Liberal Party presidential bet Manuel “Mar” Roxas 2nd also rejected the idea of postponing the May 9 polls.
“The election day is scheduled and is provided for by the Constitution. Hindi basta-basta naipo-postpone yan [It’s not something that you can hastily postpone],” Roxas told reporters.
“There’s enough time for the experts in the Supreme Court and the Comelec to resolve things,” he said.
Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel 3rd expressed dismay over the attitude of officials of the Comelec.
“They should look at all available options and then if there is really no chance for them to comply [with the SC ruling], then they should clearly show it to the court and the Filipino people that it can’t be done,” Pimentel said.
Senate President Franklin Drilon said he will block any attempt to postpone the May elections.
With JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA