Print­ing of bal­lots con­tin­ues as Barangay, SK elec­tions hang

Manila Bulletin - - Front Page - By LES­LIE ANN G. AQUINO

The Com­mis­sion on Elec­tions (Com­elec) has pro­ceeded with the print­ing of bal­lots in the ab­sence of a law that post­pones the con­duct of the Barangay and Sang­gu­ni­ang Ka­bataan (SK) elec­tions on Oc­to­ber 23.

Early this week, the Lower House voted to post­pone the Barangay and Sang­gu­ni­ang Ka­bataan polls with a vote of 213-10.

The Se­nate has yet to de­cide on the mat­ter al­though sources said it is likely to fa­vor a post­pone­ment, too and only the date re­mains the bone of con­tention.

"The House wants it held in May, the Se­nate, in Oc­to­ber — both in 2018. If this re­port is ac­cu­rate, then it would ap­pear that the Se­nate is in fa­vor of post­pone­ment as well. Once the dis­agree­ment in dates is sorted out, all that is needed for post­pone­ment to hap­pen is the Pres­i­dent's sig­na­ture," Com­elec Spokesman James Jimenez said in an ear­lier in­ter­view.

The poll body has al­ready spent close to 140 mil­lion for the print­ing of 13 mil­lion bal­lots. Com­elec needs 60 mil­lion bal­lot for the syn­chro­nized polls.

"The cost per bal­lot is 13. So, if you are al­ready at 13 mil­lion bal­lots, then that's 139 mil­ion spent. That’s just on bal­lots," Jimenez said.

"We are also spend­ing for set­ting up of train­ings of Board of Election Tell­ers (BETs), Barangay Boards of Can­vassers. We are also get­ting ready for the re­fur­bish­ing of bal­lot boxes, get­ting ready to print other forms," he added.

Stor­age prob­lem The Com­elec ear­lier said it will con­tinue to pre­pare for the Oc­to­ber polls as Congress re­mains un­de­cided on whether to post­pone it or not.

"I think it is more pru­dent to con­tinue and then later on find a way to mit­i­gate the ex­penses," Jimenez added.

Jimenez, how­ever ex­plained that the printed bal­lots will not go to waste in the event the ex­er­cise is post­poned.

"Ex­am­ple: A res­o­lu­tion could be passed say­ing that the 13 mil­lion bal­lots dated Oc­to­ber 23, 2017 shall be use­able for the barangay elec­tions on what­ever date. That can be done," Jimenez said.

The prob­lem, he ad­mit­ted is in stor­ing the bal­lots.

"If you have to store bal­lots to use at a later date, that's 13 mil­lion that you have to find a so­lu­tion for. Thir­teen mil­lion that you have to store un­til ac­tual use so that's ad­di­tional cost," said Jimenez.

"That 13 mil­lion might be re­duced due to stor­age loss ei­ther it got wet be­cause of rain or it was eaten by rats what­ever... I don’t know what will hap­pen in stor­age, but that 13 mil­lion I doubt that it will be a 100 per­cent avail­able when the elec­tions are go­ing to take place," he added.

Ac­cord­ing to Jimenez, they are al­ready ap­proach­ing the peak print­ing ca­pac­ity of two mil­lion which they ex­pect to hit any­time this week.

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