The Supreme Court (SC) is yet to rule on Sen. Grace Poe’s eligibility for the May 2016 elections, but qualified or not, her name will remain on the ballot, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said on Tuesday.
It is too late to erase the names of disqualified candidates or make any changes on the ballots since printing has started last month, according to the poll body.
Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista said even the name of former OFW party-list Rep. Roy Señeres, who passed away in February, will also be on the official ballot.
Señeres had backed out from the presidential race a week before he died.
Bautista said it is not possible to cross out or put a line across the names of candidates who were disqualified or who passed away to indicate that they are no longer in the race because it would entail a reprinting of ballots that is no longer possible at this time.
“We could not do that [put a line across the names]. It would be complicated, we would not be able to meet our April 25 deadline to finish the printing of ballots,” he explained.
“So printing will continue even if the Supreme Court rules to disqualify [Poe],” the Comelec chairman said.
Bautista also explained that if a candidate died or was disqualified, their votes will be physically counted but these will be declared stray.
“You will know the votes of these people who [were]disqualified and those who passed away,” he said.
Comelec spokesman James Jimenez earlier said that more than 10.5 million ballots have already been printed by the National Printing Office (NPO).
his is roughly 25 percent of the 56.7 million ballots that need to be printed for the national and local elections on May 9, 2016.
Printing has to be finished not later than April 25 or two weeks before election day.
The ballots are precinct-specific.
Printed on the front are the names of the presidential candidates–Manuel “Mar” Roxas 2nd, Jejomar Binay, Poe, Rodrigo Duterte, Miriam Santiago and Señeres–as well as the 115 party-list groups.
The names of the 50 senatorial candidates and local candidates are at the back.
Up for grabs in the 2016 elections are the positions for President, Vice President, 12 senators, 115 party-list representatives, 235 district congressmen, 81 governors, 81 vice governors, 772 members of the Sanggunian Panlalawigan, 144 city mayors, 144 city vice mayors, 1,610 city councilors, 1,490 municipal mayors, 1,490 municipal vice mayors, 11,924 municipal councilors and a governor and a vice governor for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and 24 ARMM assemblymen.
The Manila Times has reported that a draft decision written by SC Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo disqualified Poe on the grounds that she did not meet the residency requirement for presidential candidates.
The SC magistrates, however, are yet to vote on del Castillo’s decision.
But Poe’s lawyer, George Garcia, also on Tuesday said everything remains speculative until the High Court comes out with its resolution on Poe’s disqualification case.
“We don’t believe it. Until the SC comes out with a ruling, we remain qualified,” Garcia added.
“Granting that she is disqualified, we can still file a motion for reconsideration. It’s a long process. Under a worst-case scenario, her vote would only be considered as stray,” he said.
“The issue of delisting at this point is impossible,” Garcia added.
He said the Poe camp remains confident of winning the case pending before the SC as they have established during the oral arguments, in their pleadings and evidence submitted to the court, that Poe has met the 10-year residency requirement.
“Even the Solicitor-General, the government’s lawyer, says she [Poe] is a natural-born Filipino and has met the 10-year residency requirement. So who will doubt what the Solicitor-General has said?” Garcia said.