PRINTING of ballots for the coming Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections continues despite strong indications from Congress that the twin polls would be postponed anew.
Both the Senate and the House of Representatives have already approved on third and final reading their own versions of the proposed measure postponing the twin polls to May 20, 2018.
Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said on Friday that the printing of ballots can only be slowed down but it cannot be stopped until the President has signed the amendatory law moving the scheduled October 23 village and youth polls to next year.
“Once the law is approved, the printing of ballots and all other preparations related to the October 23 elections would be stopped,” Jimenez told The Manila Times.
As of 12 noon of September 20, the National Printing Office (NPO) has already printed 26,189,091 ballots for the barangay polls and 1,761,764 for the SK polls.
Under normal circumstances, printing of ballots should be finished at least a month before the scheduled elections to give the Comelec enough time to pack and ship the ballots and other election paraphernalia to election offices around the country.
According to the Comelec, the NPO printing machines are capable of churning out 800,000 ballots a day and up to one million at optimum capacity.
The Comelec has alloted P6 billion for the elections, that include the printing of ballots, conduct of public bidding and procurement of election paraphernalia.
The poll body needs to print 78 million ballots. Of the number, 57 million are for the barangays and 21 million for SK.
But Jimenez pointed out that only 50 million ballots are needed for next month’s scheduled polls because of the Comelec En Banc’s earlier decision to postpone elections in Mindanao due to the peace and order situation there.
In a related development, the poll body has also moved the election period from October 1 to 30 from the original schedule of September 23 to October 30 to give the public more time to prepare for participation in Barangay and SK elections if it is not postponed.
Under the new election period schedule, the filing of certificates of candidacy (COC) will start on October 5 and will end on October 11, while the campaign period will run from October 12 to October 22.
The implementation of the gun ban will also be moved from September 23 to October 1.
The period for the filing of applications for exemption from the gun ban, however, started on September 21 as previously scheduled.