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Senate vows to block attempts to waive Comelec safeguards on automated poll systems


Senators have vowed to block attempts that would allow the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to waive requirements of machine testing and proven capacity for automated election systems that will be used in Philippine automated polls.

The senators, led by Senate President Vicente Sotto III, was responding to the concern raised by election lawyer Emil Marañon that a lawmaker is attempting to get rid of the safeguards provided under Section 12 of Automated Election law by inserting such provision in the proposed General Appropriations Act (GAA) for 2021.

“[It is] easy to shoot down the proposal: Provisions of a general law cannot amend the provision of a special law. RA 8436 as amended by 9369 is a special law while GAA is a general law,” Sotto said in a Twitter post.

Senate Finance committee chairman Sonny Angara echoed Sotto, saying “We are checking on that but the Senate President’s directive is clear on that matter not to allow any such attempt.”

Senator Panfilo Lacson, for his part, argued that the GAA can only contain  provisions that are consistent with appropriations; and being a general law, it cannot amend a special law such as the Automated Election law.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon agreed with Lacson, saying such provision tinkering with the Comelec’s mandate could be unconstitutional since “it had nothing to do with the budget.”

“Moreover, if true, it will amend the Procurement Law, which cannot be amended by inserting that clause in the General Appropriations Act,” Drilon added.

The next presidential and local elections is scheduled on May 9, 2022.

Comelec commissioner Rowena Guanzon welcomed Sotto's move.

 

—AOL, GMA News