• Pimentel rejects ‘unfit’ Comelec officials

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    THE next chairman and commissioners of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) should not just be independent and familiar with election laws, they should also be knowledgeable of information technology (IT), Sen. Aquilino Pimentel 3rd said as he vowed to block confirmation of “unfit” officials of the poll body at the Commission on Appointments (CA).

    Pimentel, who heads the Senate Committee on Electoral Reforms and People’s Participation, over the weekend noted the importance of having IT savvy Comelec officials since elections now are automated.

    The senator made the statement ahead of Malacanang’s announcement on who will be the next Comelec chairman to replace Sixto Brillantes Jr, who retired in February, and two commissioners to take the posts vacated by Elias Yusof and Ramoncito Tagle.

    Pimentel said President Benigno Aquino 3rd should also consider appointing a Muslim to the poll body.

    “I’m batting for the appointment of independent-minded candidates, who have no political bias or potential conflict of interest to ensure fair, honest and transparent elections,” he added.

    The senator, a member of the powerful CA, said he will exercise his right to stop the appointment of those who will fail to meet the criteria.

    Christian Lim is the acting chairman of the Comelec.

    The poll body has 13 months to prepare for the elections next year. It is yet to award two major contracts–one for acquisition of additional Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines and one for Direct Recording Electronic technology.

    Various election watch groups are against the use of the PCOS machines and the DRE technology in 2016, claiming that this technology is not transparent.

    They also noted that while the PCOS machines can cut the voting process by several hours, there are not sure if votes will be recorded and counted by the machines.

    Some groups are pushing a system that combines manual and electronic systems called the transparent and credible election system (TCreS).

    Under TCreS, voting and precinct counting will be done manually but the transmission of results will be done electronically using cell phones and tablets.

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