THE Supreme Court (SC) decision ordering the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to issue voting receipts will derail the May 9 elections, Comelec Chairman Juan Andres Bautista warned on Tuesday.
“I think our presentation speaks for itself. It will materially impact our timeline,” Bautista said.
Commissioner Arthur Lim said that the SC decision put the Comelec in a bind since it will compromise the schedule of the elections.
“This will result in a derailment. That’s my personal take on this,” Lim said. “This is a very difficult situation that the Supreme Court has created for the country.”
“This is a day of sadness, not for the Comelec, not even for the Supreme Court, but for Philippine democracy and the rule of law.”
Bautista said that because of the SC ruling, the Comelec immediately stopped the pre-logical and accuracy test on the more than 95,000 vote counting machines (VCMs) at its Sta. Rosa warehouse in Laguna.
“This decision will have material impact on our preparations for the conduct of the automated elecyins, a mere 62 days away,” the poll chief pointed out.
The Comelec also will have to reconfigure the more than 92,500 secure digital (SD) cards because the machines have not been configured to produce the voting receipt.
The commission will also need to bid out a contract for additional thermal paper for the voting receipts and the procurement of more than 92,500 receipt receptacles, re-train the more than 277,000 teachers who will serve as members of the board of election inspectors (BEIs) and amend the general instructions for the BEIs.
Bautista also explained that the issuance of voting receipt will 10 hours in the voting process which could last up to 5 a.m.
“The printing of receipt is 13 seconds, reading the receipt is anywhere from 20 to 40 seconds. Then you include minor interruptions like paper stuck-up and the need to reboot the machine. It would take at least one minute for every voter, which means an additional 10 hours for 600 voters out of 800 per clustered precinct who would cast their votes,” he said.
Bautista said the High Court should have consulted the Comelec on the practical, operational and technical matters about elections.
But just the same, he added, the poll body will obey the tribunal’s order.
The Comelec will hold an emergency meeting on Wednesday with technology provider Smartmatic Corp. and other stakeholders.