MALACAÑANG rejected Saturday what it called an excuse by the consortium automating the May elections, which claimed a state of emergency in Maguindanao is delaying its preparations there.

Deputy presidential spokesman Gary Olivar said Smartmatic will have to “explain in detail” how the state of emergency over Maguindanao is hampering its operations.

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“It is not clear to me how a state of emergency there would affect their preparations. Kaya nilagyan ng state of emergency diyan to bring everything under control (The reason for government placing Maguindanao under a state of emergency is to bring everything there under control). We hope that ... this is not an excuse for underperformance. We encourage them to do their best,” Olivar said on government-run dzRB radio.

The government placed Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat provinces and Cotabato City under a state of emergency last November 24, 2009, a day after 57 people were massacred in Ampatuan town in Maguindanao.

On Friday, Smartmatic spokesman Gene Gregorio said they could not continue conducting site surveys in Maguindanao because the province is still under a state of emergency.

Gregorio said that as of Thursday, only 35 percent of the province has been surveyed.

Site surveys aim to check the availability of GSM network radio signals – the same kind used by cellular mobile phones for calls and SMS – for access by polling precincts.

But Olivar said that if Smartmatic has concerns about peace and order, it should bring them up with the concerned authorities.

“We cannot make the situation in Maguindanao an excuse for underperformance on the commitment to deliver automated elections sa ating bayan (in our country),” he said. (JMR/Sunnex)