THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) can still use the ballots intended for the barangay (village) and Sangguniang Kabataang (SK) polls next month if Congress decides to postpone it, Chairman Juan Andres Bautista said.
Commissioner Rowena Guanzon disputed this, saying the ballots can no longer be used.
Bautista pointed out that it has already been done in the past, and the Comelec may come out with a resolution stating that even if the ballots are for the October 23, 2017 barangay and SK elections, these can still be used at a later date.
He explained that the village and youth polls would be done manually and are not as complicated as the automated elections.
Bautista admitted that storing the ballots would be a challenge because these should be kept in a secure place to prevent tampering.
“We can come out with a resolution for the purpose or we can ‘snowpake’ the ballots to change the date but it will entail a lot of expenses,” he said.
But Guanzon said using “snowpake” to change the date on the ballots will affect the credibility of the elections.
“The law requires the date to be printed on the ballot, Imagine a situation where Comelec personnel will snowpake the date one by one. Snowpake remedy will risk the credibility of the elections,” she added.
Election lawyers George Garcia and Manuelito Luna agreed that the Comelec can legally use the ballots.
Garcia noted that the law is specific on the date of elections on the ballot but he also pointed out that “the law gives Comelec greater latitude of discretion.”
Luna said that since the barangay and SK elections will be done manually, the poll body can use the ballots at a later date so as not to waste government resources. “Legally, it is feasible for Comelec to do that,” he added.
Some P6 billion has been allotted for the twin polls, including the printing of ballots and other paraphernalia and procurement of election materials.
On August 14, the House of Representatives’ Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms approved a bill postponing the October 23 barangay and youth elections to May 2018.
The Senate has yet to approve its version.