Comelec: Ballots printed by April 25

Sheila Crisostomo - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - The printing of official ballots for the May 9 elections is likely to be completed earlier than April 25, Commission on Elections (Comelec) spokesman James Jimenez said yesterday.

In an interview, Jimenez noted that over 10.5 million of the 54.36 million official ballots had been printed as of last week.

“I think there’s a distinct possibility that we can finish earlier. The printing machines are not yet even at full speed capacity – so we’ll still go faster,” he added.

The start of ballot printing had to be postponed thrice before it actually started last Feb. 18. But despite this, the Comelec was confident that it could meet the April 25 deadline. 

Aside from the 54.36 million official ballots, some 2.4 million additional Final Testing and Sealing and demo ballots are also being printed at the National Printing Office in Quezon City.

Of the 10.5 million printed official ballots, some 71,000 had to be rejected and reprinted due to being misaligned, oversized or wrongly cut.

Jimenez said the three Cannon printers at the NPO could print up to 1.1 million ballots daily at peak. He expressed hope that printing would not be interrupted.

“I guess, in any process, like in 2010 and 2013, we can expect hiccups along the way to full preparedness. That should be expected,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Laban ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) yesterday joined senatorial candidates Richard Gordon and Greco Belgica in seeking Supreme Court help to compel the Comelec to issue receipts to voters during the general elections in May.

The party, which is carrying presidential candidate Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte as its standard-bearer in the elections, asked the high court to issue a writ of mandamus ordering the poll body to activate the voter verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) feature of the vote counting machines (VCM) to be used for the polls.

Through lawyer Ted Contacto, the PDP-Laban – led by Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III – argued that failure of refusal of the Comelec to activate the VVPAT is a violation of Republic Act No. 9369 (Automated Elections System Law).

“There should be receipts issued so that the voters would see that their votes were properly counted by the VCM,” he explained to reporters in an interview.

Petitioner rebutted the poll body’s claims that the use of VVPAT would delay election preparations.

“Regardless of the delay it may cause, our position is the law was duly enacted by Congress so the Comelec should implement it,” Contacto added.

Meanwhile, the Comelec has issued a resolution stating that a Board of Canvassers (BOC) shall be constituted for newly created provinces, cities and municipalities in the coming May 9 polls.

In Resolution No. 10065 promulgated on Feb. 26, the Comelec said there shall be BOCs for “newly created political subdivisions.”  

The provincial election supervisors or election officers in these areas shall submit to the poll body the names of individuals who would compose the boards.

The resolution stated that the BOC chairman and members shall receive an honoraria of P10,000 each for services rendered.

The resolution also contains the guidelines for their substitution of the BOC chairman and members “in case of non-availablity, absence, disqualification due to relationship or incapacity for any cause.”

BOC members, the resolution stated, shall not be related within the fourth civil degree of consanguinity or affinity to each other or to the consolidation and canvassing system operator or to any candidates whose votes will be canvassed by the board. – Edu Punay

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