By Carmela Fonbuena
Wednesday, 14 January 2009
Representatives of the European Union on Tuesday met with Commission on Elections (Comelec) chair Jose Melo to monitor the progress of the automation of the 2010 polls.
“We met a team of about 13 commissioners. They were in full force. They are showing very great interest in the coming 2010 poll elections. They are asking a lot of questions,” Melo told abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak.
The EU team was led by the head of the delegation Ambassador Alistair MacDonald and Czech Republic Ambassador Jaroslav Ludva. Melo was joined by National Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) chair Henrietta De Villa.
Barely a year before the May 2010 presidential polls, the Comelec is in the thick of preparing for the automation. Melo said he reported to the EU members that the Advisory Council—which is tasked to oversee the technical aspect of the poll automation—is set to finalize on Friday the terms of reference for the project bidders.
Melo said he is happy with the interest shown by foreign institutions like the EU. “They might send foreign observers. We welcome them,” he said.
Melo believes that the presence of foreign observers helps in ensuring a cleaner election.
Asked if there are other international groups who have shown interest in the 2010 poll automation, Melo said he is also counting on the Asian Network for Free Elections to come again in 2010. The Asian group has been regularly sending delegates in the Philippines to observe elections.
Melo earlier said he was pleased that a bill allotting a supplemental budget of P11.3 billion for the 2010 poll automation is finally filed in Congress.
After months of sitting on the budget allocation, Malañang on January 9 finally submitted to Congress supplemental budget. Appropriations committee chair Quirino Rep. Junie Cua immediately the necessary bill, which House Speaker Prospero Nograles said will be fast tracked for approval as soon as Congress resumes session next week, June 19. (abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak)