Tuesday, May 8, 2007

NAMFREL drops SMS, goes back to 'old school' tabulation

By Alexander Villafania
Last updated 03:09pm (Mla time) 05/08/2007

MANILA, Philippines -- After experiencing difficulties in using short-messaging system (SMS) in tabulating the results of the 2004 Presidential elections, the National Movement for Free Elections (NAMREL) is going back to using e-mail, fax and courier service in collecting copies of election returns for the upcoming May 14 general elections.

In a phone interview, NAMFREL Secretary General Eric Alvia said that the system they will be using this year is the same one used in the 2001 general elections. Alvia said they are giving NAMFREL volunteers the option to use any means necessary to send municipal results to the NAMFREL headquarters in La Salle Greenhills in San Juan City.

"They can send their reports via e-mail, fax or they can call. If they don't have any electronic transmission methods they can opt to send it using courier service until the reports come to our headquarters," Alvia said.

On the other hand, Alvia said they are trying the WeRoam wireless broadband access service of the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT), which is supposed to reach areas with no Internet connection.

Likewise, Alvia said Namfrel is putting up a new free-to-view website that will host all of the tabulated results.

"The NAMFREL website will be up within the week, before the May 14 elections," Alvia said.

NAMFREL had tested an SMS process of sending election returns to the NAMFREL headquarters in the 2004 Presidential elections. However, it suffered various problems including flooding of thousands of text messages into the dedicated NAMFREL server.

Likewise, the entire process of tabulating the SMS reports took almost as long as the manual method.