MALACANANG wants the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to intensify its move to educate the public about automated system of voting, which will be implemented this coming May election.

Deputy Presidential spokesman for economic affairs Gary Olivar issued this advice after learning survey results that majority of the voters still lack confidence of achieving clean election and credible results through automated polls.

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"Well it is clearly something that ought to be improved on and I think it is the job of the Comelec to do the proper voter's education campaign so that they (voter's) believe in the process, the voters should believe in it and participate actively in it," Olivar stressed.

He said the Palace is saddened about the survey result since automated election has been one of the top agenda of the President ever since the start of her term.

"How much more might need to be done in terms of voter's education, awareness what are the new things that we ought to be doing to get people aware of this and also supportive of it this is certainly going to be continuing challenge for Comelec . We do hope that they will be successful in doing that."

Recent Pulse Asia survey showed four out of 10 Filipinos, or about 40 percent, think that the automated polls will result in clean elections.

About 16 percent, think otherwise, saying that automated poll will be clean while a bigger proportion of about 43 percent have said that they were still undecided about the possible outcome of the new election system.

Olivar associated the high level of distrust on automated election to the previous election process the country had.

"Electoral process is obviously the product of previous experience (of the public with elections). We would hope that successful initiation of the automation process would go a long way in mitigating that level of distrust based on what happened in the past," he said.

The Palace official meanwhile asked the public to become optimistic of having a successful election as automated poll this coming May.

He said the trust of the Filipinos is important for the new electoral process to run smoothly. "We are trying to turn over a new leaf in a lot of ways this year and one of them obviously involves the way we conduct the election. If Filipinos as we noted earlier are hopeful in greeting the New Year and why not of 1 of every 5 Filipinos or 4 out of 5 Filipinos is hopeful. We would ask our countrymen to extend that hopefulness as well to the prospects of the first automated election we are having ever in this country."

Despite the survey result, the Palace remains confident that the Comelec will do its job in educating voters and gaining the trust of the Filipinos for a clean election.

Olivar said they will not be short of reminding the Comelec of addressing the issues and public's concern about automated election.

Safety measures in May polls

To ensure that all the election paraphernalia and the 82,200 precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines will be delivered to its destinations on time, Comelec is forming a technical working group (TWG) that will outline plans.

James Jimenez, spokesman for the Comelec, said the TWG will be composed of government and non-government entities that will help them draft plans for the transshipments of the elections materials.

"The Comelec will be forming a technical working group on logistics and the tracking of the ballots. We have invited representatives from the DOTC [Department of transportation and Communications], Finance, Marina (Maritime Industry Authority), a bunch of others the government agencies including Philpost, private enterprise Fedex, DHL and all of these in transportation industries in the trade and delivery industry," Jimenez said.

According to Jimenez, the meeting with the TWG will be on Friday.

He said DOTC Secretary Leandro Mendoza and Finance Secretary Margarito Teves are expected to attend the meeting.

Jimenez said representatives from Air21/FedEx, 2Go Cargo, Coltrans, DHL Philippines, LBC Express Inc., Argo Forwarders, Germalin Enterprises, Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific have also been invited.

He explained that the main purpose of meeting different agencies in the transport industry as well as private firms is basically to get their ideas and inputs on how the Comelec could secure the delivery of the election paraphernalia.

The Comelec official said they wanted to make sure that proper safety measures are implemented once they transport the machines and the materials to be used for the May elections.

"It's very important that this early we get fresh eyes on our plans para hindi mali mali ang plano so we want to get input from everyone," he added.

Comelec chairman Jose Melo earlier said that they have selected 40 regional hubs where the PCOS machines and other election materials will be deployed as early as April 25.

To recall, less than 10 percent of the 82,200 PCOS machines have been delivered last week by the consortium of Smartmatic Corp. and Total Information Management Corp. (TIM).

The supplier were supposed to deliver 42,000 machines last month, but due to some hitches they delivered only 7, 200 which are currently stored in a warehouse in Cabuyao, Laguna.

Smartmatic and TIM however committed to complete the delivery of the remaining 75,000 machines one week before the February deadline. (Jill Beltran/MSN/Sunnex)