ELECTION lawyer Romulo Macalintal asked the Commission on Elections (Comelec) Monday to cite in contempt poll critics who will fail to show evidence.

“Those who say that Comelec is not prepared…they should present evidence for such accusation. The problem is they are full of speculations. The Comelec should call those who say that there will be a failure of election and ask them: what is your evidence to prove that there will be a failure of election?" Macalintal said.

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“If they fail to present evidence, they should be cited for contempt and be reprimanded not to issue such statements,” he furthered.

For his part, Comelec Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal said these critics should realize the implications of their accusations so as not to cause panic among the voting public.

“It's so cheap to use the phrase 'failure of elections.' Every person suddenly becomes an expert and says that there will be a failure of elections. Do they actually realize what they're talking about and what it means to have a failure of elections?” said Larrazabal.

“You should not expand the meaning of the failure of elections to accommodate some conspiracy theories,” the Comelec official added.

The poll body has repeatedly assured the public and candidates running this May 2010 that it will be able to successfully implement the first-ever automated polls.

“What's important is that people go out and vote, the votes will be counted, the counted votes will be canvassed and the winners will be proclaimed," Larrazabal said.

A teachers' group recently warned that it would boycott the 2010 polls if Comelec fails to address its concerns.

Teachers' Dignity Coalition (TDC) has appealed to the poll body to prevent disenfranchisement of teachers since its members will be serving as the board of election inspectors (BEIs) on May 10.

TDC national chairperson Benjo Basas told Sun.Star that they have continuously appealed to Comelec to prevent disenfranchisement through: the verification of status of our voters' registration, reactivation of those who were deactivated, transfer of registration of those who are registered in places other than their work assignments and special registration for teachers.

But Larrazabal said they cannot easily grant the request of TDC since the elections is less than two months away.

“These are several different matters and some of these have already been addressed,” he quickly added.

Teachers’ training

The training for BEIs is ongoing and so far, only 10 out of 3,000 teachers have failed the training facilitated by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

Out of the three BEIs who will serve on election day, only one member should be IT-certified.

According to Comelec, teachers who flanked the training for the automated elections are only small portion of those that passed the training.

“So that’s less than 0.1 percent (in failing rate)… I think they failed because they are old already. I don’t want to preempt what’s the result, why they failed. I want to see the test results (first)," Larrazabal told reporters on Monday.

He explained that the examinations being given to the teachers who will serve as members of the BEIs for the May 10 polls is essential to ensure that they are capable to operating the 82,300 precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines.

“(About) 2,990 teachers qualified ..... Ten out of 3,000 is not the end of the world,” he added.

The commissioner also said they are not bothered on reports that some teachers failed the exams since it would have no bearing at all on the conduct of the May 10 elections.

A total of 157,000 teachers will be trained by the Comelec.

Larrazabal said while they don’t have the exact figure of the total number of teachers who were already trained to use the PCOS machines, they estimated it to reach more than 100,000.

He also expressed confidence that the teachers who underwent the training will be efficient in administering the operations of the automated machines. (Kathrina Alvarez/MSN/Sunnex)