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Comelec may spend P100 million more for next year's polls

MANILA, Philippines - The Commission on Elections (Comelec) may have to spend P100 million more for next year's elections with the refusal of Transportation Secretary Manuel Roxas II to junk the electoral protest he had filed against Vice President Jejomar Binay.

Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes said the poll body has no recourse but to conduct a bidding for the procurement of new ballot boxes and other election paraphernalia.

"We cannot use the old ballot boxes because of Roxas' pending (electoral) protest but if he would agree to just junk the case, we could save P100 million," Brillantes said.

He disclosed that the poll body is now readying to conduct a public bidding for the purchase of new ballot boxes to be used for the 2013 senatorial polls.

According to Brillantes, the Comelec could still use the old ballot boxes if the Supreme Court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), would allow it.

The poll body had earlier signed a contract with Smartmatic International for the purchase of the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines along with the software and the consolidation and canvassing system (CCS) in preparation for the coming midterm elections.

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The contract, however, excludes other services and election paraphernalia that were used in the 2010 national and local polls such as ballot boxes, ballot papers, and ballot printing, as they will be subjected to public biddings.

In the last May 2010 elections, the Comelec used a black ballot box made of hard plastic with translucent windows on the sides and measuring 36 inches in length, 34 inches high, and 20 inches in width.

Roxas, who ran for vice president in the 2010 elections, protested Binay's victory and questioned a total of 76,000 out of the more than 80,000 ballots boxes before the PET.

But he is reportedly being eyed to run in the coming senatorial elections that may render his protest against Binay already withdrawn.

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