Ballot printing starts
Sheila Crisostomo (The Philippine Star) - February 15, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines - All six presidential candidates including the recently deceased are on the official ballot as printing finally got underway yesterday after several postponements.

With disqualification cases still unresolved by the Supreme Court, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) released the list of candidates in the May 9 local and national elections as the National Printing Office (NPO) began work on 55.6 million official ballots.

The NPO is also printing 1.2 million ballots that will be used by the Comelec for the preliminary logic and accuracy test, as well as the  final testing and sealing test and other election paraphernalia.

The ballots will have the names of six candidates for president: Jejomar Binay (United Nationalist Alliance), Miriam Defensor-Santiago (People’s Reform Party), Rodrigo Duterte (Partido ng Demokratikong Pilipino-Laban), Grace Poe (independent), Mar Roxas (Liberal Party) and OFW Family Club party-list Rep. Roy Señeres, who died recently.

Under the Omnibus Election Code, someone can substitute for Señeres until mid-day of election day, Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista explained.

“We are confident that we can meet our deadline – that by April 25, we shall have finished printing all the ballots we need for the May 9 polls,” Bautista said during yesterday’s media tour at the NPO in Quezon City.

The 55.6 million official ballots include those for local absentee voters such as the police, the military, teachers and the media, and 1.18 million ballots for overseas absentee voting. 

Three units of OCE Cannon Digital Printer are being used by the NPO, two of which had been leased from Holy Family Printing Corp. Each ballot costs P20, Bautista said. 

He said the 2016 ballots are “significantly shorter” at 20 inches by 8.5 inches, compared to those used in the 2010 elections, which were 27 inches by 8.5 inches.

“In 2010, there were 10 candidates for president, now there are six. There were eight candidates for vice president, now it’s only six. For the party-list, there were 187 compared to 115 now.”

Bautista assured the public that despite the reduced size of the ballots, the texts are more readable than in 2013.

Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said the printers now have faster computer units so they are more efficient in reading the ballots.  

The Comelec is expecting around 100,000 to 200,000 ballots to be printed daily in the first few days of printing.

According to Genevieve Guevarra, head of the Comelec Printing Committee, they expect up to 1.1 million ballots to be printed daily when printing machines hit their peak in the coming weeks.

Printing runs in two shifts from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 8 a.m. from Monday to Sunday. Operations will stop on Maundy Thursday and Holy Friday.

“We are printing those for overseas absentee voting, and then the ballots for far flung areas like the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), which is our priority,” she told reporters.

As a rule, ballots intended for far-away places are shipped first. The last ones to be delivered are those intended for Metro Manila voting centers.

Guevarra said the ballots in ARMM are longer because they contain Arabic translation.  

Official list of bets

The Comelec released yesterday the certified lists of candidates for president, vice president, senator and party-list system.

For vice president, the candidates are Alan Peter Cayetano (independent), Chiz Escudero (Independent), Gringo Honasan (UNA), Bongbong Marcos (independent), Leni Robredo (LP) and Antonio Trillanes IV (Independent).

Based on a memorandum of Comelec Law Department director Maria Norina Tangaro-Casingal dated yesterday, the senatorial aspirants are: Sharrif Albani (Independent), Aldin Ali (Partido ng Manggagawa at Magsasaka Workers and Peasants Party), Raffy Alunan (Independent), Ina Ambolodto (Liberal Party), Godofredo Arquiza (Independent), Levito Baligod (Independent), Greco Belgica (Independent), Walden Bello (Independent), Sandra Cam (Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino), Mel Chavez (WPPPMM), Neri Colmenares (MKBYAN), Leila de Lima (LP), Isko Moreno Domagoso (PMP), Ray Dorona (Independent), Frank Drilon (LP), Larry Gadon (Kilusan ng Bagong Lipunan), Win Gatchalian (National People’s Coalition), Dick Gordon (Independent), TG Guingona (LP), Risa Hontiveros (Akbayan), 

Eid Kabalu (Independent), Lorna Kapunan (Aksyon), Princess Jacel Kiram (United Nationalist Alliance), Alma Moreno Lacsamana (UNA),           Panfilo Lacson (Independent), Rey Langit (UNA), Mark Lapid (Aksyon), Dante Liban (Independent), Romeo Maganto (Lakas), Edu Manzano (Independent); 

Allan Montano (UNA), Mon Montaño (Independent), Getulio Napeñas (UNA), Susan Ople (Nacionalista Party), Sergio Osmeña III (Independent), Manny Pacquiao (UNA), Mr. Coop Paez (Independent), Samuel Pagdilao (Independent), Jovito Palparan Jr. (Independent), Kiko Pangilinan (LP), Carlos Jericho Petilla (LP), Ralph Recto (LP), Martin Romualdez (Lakas), Roman Romulo (Independent), Dionisio Santiago (Independent); 

Vicente Sotto (NPC),      Francis Tolentino (Independent) Diosdado Valeroso (Independent), Joel Villanueva (LP), and Migz Zubiri (Independent).  

Final testing

Meanwhile, the Comelec has instructed the Board of Inspectors (BEI) to do the final testing and sealing of the vote counting machines (VCMs) from May 2 to 6.

In Comelec Resolution No. 10057, the poll body said the BEI shall convene to do such procedures on the VCM assigned to their respective polling precincts.

But Comelec noted the election officers would have to notify the candidates, registered political parties, party-list organizations or the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting not later than April 29.

After the VCMs have been sealed, it can only be opened on Election Day. 

The resolution contains the general instructions for the BEI, which will administer the May 9 elections. Each BEI is composed of three public school teachers. 

It shows that casting of votes shall run from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Election Day. Voters who have not cast their votes but are within 30 meters of the polling place by 5 p.m. shall still be allowed to vote.

The poll clerk will have to get the names of these voters and number them consecutively. 

The Comelec said watchers of candidates or parties are not allowed to enter the places reserved for voters and the BEI and/or “mingle and talk with voters.”

Unless specifically authorized by the Comelec, the poll body said it is unlawful for members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) or Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), any police officer or any armed person belonging to any extra-legal police agency, special forces, reaction forces, strike forces, Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Units, barangay tanods or other similar forces or paramilitary forces to go near voting places. 

It added that no voter would be allowed to vote as illiterate or people with disability unless they are registered as such.

The Comelec also cautioned that taking “selfie or groupie” photos is not allowed inside polling precincts.

Additional policemen

The PNP will deploy additional police personnel on the streets as part of security measures for the elections in May.

PNP chief Director General Ricardo Marquez has been conducting inspection on the security setup of police stations in the provinces and expressed satisfaction on the implementation and compliance so far.

Marquez, however, pointed out that other contingency planning should be improved.

“As I move around (the country), the lines of operations are implemented properly. What should be improved I believe is the contingency planning. The contingency planning should be conducted with the AFP, Comelec and other relevant agencies,” he said.

PNP spokesman Chief Supt. Wilben Mayor said territorial police units are directed to set up checkpoints in strategic areas in their respective jurisdictions to preempt any election-related violent incidents. – With Cecille Suerte Felipe

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