After delays, gov’t starts printing 57M ballots

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

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After delays, gov’t starts printing 57M ballots
The Comelec vows to finish printing the ballots by April 25, the original deadline, after ballot printing was delayed 3 times

MANILA, Philippines – Hurdling a series of delays, the Philippine government on Monday, February 15, started printing nearly 57 million ballots for the May 9 elections.

Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Andres Bautista said the ballot for the 2016 elections is, among other things, shorter than the version used in previous polls.

Ito ang dahilan kung bakit maiimprenta natin lahat ng balota by April 25, which is the original deadline,” Bautista said in a news conference at the National Printing Office (NPO) in Quezon City, the site of ballot printing.

(This is the reason why we can print all the ballots by April 25, which is the original deadline.)

Upon hearing Bautista say this, government employees at the NPO applauded. Bautista quickly said in jest, “Magpalakpakan ‘pagka nagawa na ang mga balota.” (Let’s clap our hands once we’ve printed all the ballots.)

The Comelec said the NPO is supposed to print exactly 56,772,230 ballots by April 25.

Of this number, the Comelec is using around 54,363,844 ballots in local voting centers on election day. 

It is designating the rest of the ballots for various tests.

Poe included in ballot

The printing of ballots is taking place 24/7 at the NPO office.

The Comelec said it has designated around 180 people, working in two shifts for the ballot printing itself.

For other stages of the process, such as verifying the ballots after printing, the Comelec and the NPO have assigned at least 485 personnel. 

The ballot printing comes days after this activity was delayed at least 3 times due to various reasons. These reasons include system problems and a case filed by presidential bet Senator Grace Poe against the Comelec before the Supreme Court (SC).

Ballot printing was supposed to start on January 26. It was moved to February 1, then to February 8, then to February 15.

On Poe, the Comelec eventually decided to include her in the ballot while waiting for the decision of the SC. – Rappler.com

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Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email pat.esmaquel@rappler.com