Philippine election officials insisted Wednesday that next week's polls would go ahead, amid frantic efforts to replace more than 70,000 faulty memory cards that were to be used in vote counting machines.
The Commission on Elections has come under enormous pressure since revealing the technical glitch, with President Gloria Arroyo's office saying the vote may need to be delayed.
The use of an automated system has long raised fears of fraud and a failed vote, and Tuesday's recall of some 76,000 faulty memory cards to be used in the machines had prompted the government to propose delaying the poll by two weeks.
But, commission on Elections (Comelec) commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal said in a televised address on Wednesday, "those who are liable will be held liable, those who are negligent will be held accountable, but for now, let us work together to ensure that the elections will work on May 10, 2010."
Larrazabal said the new cards would be sent, tested and sealed by the eve of the poll, when more than 50 million Filipinos are eligible to vote for president and nearly 18,000 national and local positions.
Larrazabal said it would be a tough challenge to get the fresh memory cards to all the machines across the sprawling archipelago of more than 7,000 islands.
"It is a major logistical problem, but our goal is to get it done," he said.
"We now have to write (the codes) into the cards, bring them to the provinces and then swap them with the old ones, test and seal them again."
He said helicopters belonging to the armed forces and private companies such as beer giant San Miguel would be used to fly the replacement chips across the country.
Votes in previous Philippine elections were counted by hand, a process that was extremely vulnerable to cheating and meant results sometimes took weeks to be announced.
The government decided to introduce a computerised system at a cost of 7.2 billion pesos (163 million dollars) in an effort to shorten the vote-tallying process to a few days and to minimise the potential for cheating.
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is ineligible to stand for the presidency again, but is running for a seat in the lower house of Congress.
Leading presidential candidate Senator Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino has said he will investigate allegations of corruption, election fraud and rights abuses against Arroyo and her administration.
Aquino has opened a double-digit lead over Senator Manuel "Manny" Villar and former president Joseph Estrada to be the clear favourite.
The current administration's presidential candidate, Gilberto "Gibo" Teodoro is running a distant fourth in opinion polls.
Aquino and Villar's respective parties, the Liberal Party and Nacionalista Party, have said the proposed delay is unconstitutional.
Related news reports:Last Mod: 05 Mayıs 2010, 14:50