He said the advantage of the massive roll out theory is that one is able to generate learnings in a short period of time compared to a limited roll out.
“If you expose a new technology in various places at the same time, you essentially have many small laboratories (to see the results),” Jimenez said, adding there will be an increase in “net progress.” Yet, Jimenez insisted that the automated overseas absentee voting is not an experiment.
According to Jimenez, 20 units of PCOS machines will be sent to Hongkong and seven units for Singapore. He added that there will be back-up machines, five for Hongkong and two for Singapore. But Migrante International, the largest OFW group, said the allotted PCOS machines for both countries are not enough.
The planned automated voting will involve 95,355 registered Filipino absentee voters in Hongkong and 31,851 in Singapore, comprising 20 percent of the 589,830 total OAV voters.
“The ballot box of each PCOS machine is designed to accommodate only 1,000 ballots. In both Hongkong and Singapore, there would roughly be 5,000 voters per PCOS machine. How on earth could 5,000 overseas absentee voting ballots fit into one ballot box?” Migrante International chairperson Garry Martinez said, adding that they fear that the opening of the ballot boxes,once they become full, would be an opportunity for election cheating.
But Jimenez said that with the AES, it is impossible for cheating to happen. He said election procedures will happen so fast that before the person who intends to cheat could think of a way how, the election is already finished, he said.
To further ensure clean overseas elections, Jimenez added, the Comelec would be allowing poll watchers. However, they should be accredited by the Education and Information department of Comelec in Manila. Requests may be done via email, he said.
However, Migrante believes that with “the slack preparations and the machine glitches during the dry-runs”, chaos leading to disenfranchisement is likely to happen. He cited the major transmission glitches and other problems that occurred during the mock elections in Taguig and Quezon City.
Jimenez said that aside from generating the results of the elections faster, there is no clear benefit for OFWs with the introduction of the AES. But Migrante said should there be a failure of elections in Hongkong and Singapore, it is the administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo that would surely benefit.
(Photo courtesy of Gabriela-HK / bulatlat.com)
Migrante noted that presidential bets Manny Villar and Eddie Villanueva are known to have strong support among OFWs in Honkong and Singapore. “It must also be stressed that progressive party-list groups such as Migrante Sectoral Party and Gabriela Women’s Party topped the party-list elections in Hongkong in 2004 and 2007.
Under the current circumstances, Migrante called upon OFWs to be vigilant because they have been robbed of their democratic rights twice – denying them of direct representation to Congress through the Migrante Sectoral Party and the lack of information regarding the AES.