Comelec sets printing dry run; ballots to exclude Señeres

Sheila Crisostomo - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - There is still time to remove other names from the official list of candidates – including that of OFW Family Club Part-list Rep. Roy Señeres – as actual printing of ballots will not push through tomorrow, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said yesterday.

Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista said yesterday they can still process Señeres’ statement of withdrawal from the presidential race as tomorrow’s procedure at the National Printing Office in Quezon City would only be a dry run.

“I think this is a blessing in disguise because we might be able to remove more names from the lists, like that of the senators.  I was told that when the ballot becomes shorter, printing will also be faster,” Bautista said.

He could not say, however, when the actual printing would begin. The original target for ballot printing was Jan. 25 but it was moved to Feb. 1 and then to Feb. 8 to allow more time for clearing the list of candidates.

“For me, I want the ballots to be clean. If we can remove more names, why not? We are still within the timeline for ballot printing. By April 25, we will finish printing the ballots,” he added.

The Comelec loads the names of the candidates and other pertinent information about polling precincts on the Election Management System and then the printing system of the NPO.

Señeres’ withdrawal has sparked concern that there would be no more time to remove his name from the official list of candidates because he made the announcement on the last working day before the scheduled start of the printing of ballots.

“For me, if he really wants to withdraw, we cannot stop him.  According to his daughter and lawyer, he is ill so the plan is to accept his withdrawal,” Bautista told reporters.

Only the names of five presidential aspirants are expected to be in the printed ballots. They are Sens. Grace Poe and Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Vice President Jejomar Binay, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and former Interior chief Manuel Roxas II.

Last Friday, Seneres’ lawyer Candy Rivas and daughter Hannah went to the Comelec Law Department to file his statement of withdrawal, citing his poor health. 

The Comelec, however, did not accept his statement of withdrawal, saying the law requires that Señeres personally file the statement.

Rivas told Comelec reporters that they intended to file the statement, with a medical certificate indicating Señeres’ condition, either tomorrow or on Tuesday.

Mock signages

To give voters a feel of what to expect in the May 9 elections, the Comelec set up mock signages and instruction displays at a polling center in Quezon City.

Bautista and election officer Eric Santos of Comelec District 3 showed voters and the media some guide signages that would be displayed at voting centers across the country. Yesterday’s activity was held at the Pura Kalaw Elementary School in Cubao, Quezon City. It was not clear if the same activity would be held in other precincts.

“We want voters to experience first hand what to expect on May 9, 2016. We are doing our best to improve the voting experience in public schools where the larger public will be trooping to vote, while we also continue to iron details of mall voting,” Bautista said. – Rhodina Villanueva





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