INVESTMENT inflows into the country this year, according to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), "will hinge on the orderly conduct of elections and the person who will end up leading the next administration."

Investors are being cautious, and are opting to go slow in making business decisions regarding possible new ventures.

Applications for investment, according to the DTI, still come "but as to when these projects will get off the ground" would be dependent on what will really happen in the coming weeks or months. Investor decision, so the DTI avers, will really depend on the conduct of the elections and who will win. "The orderliness of the elections is a very important consideration for them," the very reason for investors' wait-and-see attitude.

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When the DTI observations and concerns are taken against the prevailing issues that appear to be challenging the capability and capacity of the Commission on Elections to conduct the 2010 presidential elections, there emerges a measure of reality and soundness to the DTI fears. At the moment, Comelec is confronted with questions about its preparedness regarding the automation program that it has initiated.

The burden of responsibility that is laid on the shoulders of the Comelec regarding the political exercise that is barely five months away can not be underestimated. The fact that up to this moment, the precinct count optical scan machines (PCOS) for about 82 thousand precincts nationwide are not that they are still to be installed, but that many of them have not even arrived yet, or made ready for installation.

The machines' contracting firm, Smartmatic, has passed on the blame in the delay of the PCOS installation to the Comelec, which reportedly has not yet given to the firm all the data needed to make the machines operational. On top of that, it was pointed out, too, that the training of teachers to oversee the use of the machines in the precincts still has to be done, a matter that invited critical remark from a Catholic bishop.

But it is a developing mixed voting phenomenon in May that might cause the problem the business community fears might undermine investor confidence in the election results. There is voter effort to pick what is the best for a particular post, but many are still unable to make up their minds on the presidential or vice presidential candidate to vote for. Given the line up, there is the possibility they will be mixing their votes.

Thus, in the matter of the presidency and vice presidency, down to the senatorial, gubernatorial, congressional, mayoral line-up, voters would likely come up with mixed ticket of candidates belonging to the Lakas-Kampi-CMD, NP, LP, NPC, etc., political parties, whose particular qualifications invite the voters' interest and trust. When the voters move down to the local candidates, they would come with a potpourri of names.

And so, unless the Comelec and its aides are well-prepared to face the challenge, credibility of the political exercise might suffer irreparably.