CEBU CITY -- Voters need to hold six presidential candidates accountable for a covenant they signed in Cebu last Friday, pledging clean elections and governance, including a specific promise not to buy votes.

Eric Mendoza, president of the Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI), said the same covenant can be used to get more pledges from concerned sectors, not just the candidates.

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“So this will be a powerful tool for honesty and vigilance,” he said.

The presidential aspirants who signed the covenant at the end of the “Choices and Voices for 2010” forum are Senator Noynoy Aquino, former President Joseph Estrada, Senator Richard Gordon, lawyer Gilberto Teodoro Jr., evangelist Eddie Villanueva, and Senator Manny Villar.

When asked if the three business chambers that organized the forum will extend their voters’ education campaign to other sectors, Mendoza said for now, they are discussing how to continue what they started.

“Of course, it is highly considered but it still needs consultation with our boards,” he said.

The MCCI organized last Friday’s forum with the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Cebu Business Club, in partnership with Aboitiz Equity Ventures and Visayan Electric Company Inc.

Before the forum started, representatives of Smartmatic-TIM reminded the 2,000 participants to prepare a list of candidates they want to vote for, as one way to avoid over-voting on Election Day.

In case of over-voting, the choices for that specific election will not be counted, explained Smartmatic-TIM technical support manager Miguel Avila.

“Since there is only one ballot per voter, we are encouraging you to prepare a kodigo or a list of candidates to make voting more efficient,” Avila told participants, mostly from the business community, at the Cebu International Convention Center.

At least half of the oval beside a candidate’s name has to be shaded, for that vote to be counted.

“After filling up the ballot, voters then proceed to the line for the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines, so they can feed their ballots to the machine,” he said.

Wait for the PCOS unit’s confirmation before leaving, he added.

He also assured that the technology to be used for the country’s first-ever automated elections is precinct-specific, as part of its security features.

Smartmatic-TIM is supposed to deploy more than 80,000 PCOS machines to clustered precincts nationwide for the May elections.

Mendoza said the Smartmatic-TIM demonstration went well and reassured most of the participants that “the machines can handle and control the reading and counting of the ballots.” (KOC/Sun.Star Cebu)