The Comelec brokered this afternoon an agreement between Smartmatic and TIM that will enable the two companies to finalize their joint venture that will implement the automation of the 2010 polls.
After what appeared to be a difficult three hours of negotiations, the parties together with Chairman Jose Melo and other Comelec officials were able to announce what many people have been hoping for — that the parties have come to terms sufficiently to sign their joint venture incorporation papers that will be submitted to the SEC so that the poll automation contract between the Comelec and the Smartmatic-TIM joint venture could be signed by Friday next week.
Although it is obvious that there are still problems that will need to be threshed out between Smartmatic and TIM, today's development gave a sigh of relief to many quarters who feared a reversion to manual polls and the return of the glory days of "dagdag-bawas."
I join the view of those who would want to dissect the details of these joint venture setup and the way in which the Comelec will manage these contractors with the end in view of ensuring transparency and regularity of the entire process and the reliability of the systems that will be deployed including the machines and the technical support personnel.
I would like to see a more comprehensive testing of the system, say a pilot run involving mock elections in a dozen precincts of several thousand people. That should be exciting and I believe we will all learn a lot from such a test run that should make us brighter and wiser come May 2010.
Preferably, there should be some Senators there and Congressmen and hard-nosed media people, IT practitioners and other concerned citizens who can try the system in a situation as close as possible to a real election environment. Tutal, ginulantang na rin lang tayo nitong mga kumag na taga Smartmatic at TIM na 'to, bigyan naman natin sila ng pagkakataon na patunayang talagang karapat-dapat tayong gumastos ng bilyon-bilyong piso sa mga sistema nila.