THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) has decided to halt the ongoing printing of the official ballots to be used for the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections set on October 31, as its postponement looms.
Comelec Spokesman James B. Jimenez told reporters that the printing of the ballots at the National Printing Office (NPO) was stopped on Friday in anticipation of the polls’ postponement.
“Printing was suspended last Friday, after the President’s statement regarding barangay [and SK] elections,” Jimenez said.
Earlier, President Duterte admitted to having agreed with Congress that the barangay and SK polls should be postponed in order to avoid narco-politics playing a role in the elections, as well as in order to save public funds.
With Duterte’s statement, Jimenez said the poll body is expecting that bills pending before the Senate and the House of Representatives calling for the postponement of the process until 2018 will be passed.
“It was considered a prudent course of action, considering both the House and the Senate had already expressed similar leanings,” Jimenez said.
The Comelec has, so far, printed an estimated 411,000 ballots, outspecifically those assigned to Agusan del Norte and Agusan del Sur precincts.
The printing of the ballots started on August 21 and was supposed to end in October.
A total of 85 million ballots are needed for the barangay and SK elections. But, Jimenez said the suspension of ballot printing may only last until September 1.
“If by September 1 we still have no confirmation of postponement, we will resume printing,” Jimenez assured.
Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III expressed approval of delaying the elections by at least one year and vowed to rally his colleagues to already pass the measure.
At the House of Representatives, House Speaker Pantaleon D. Alvarez has also supported proposals to postpone the elections, saying it could lead to millions being saved by the government. Sen. Alan Peter S. Cayetano has also filed a bill seeking to delay the process until October 2018.
Similarly, House Bill 6420 of Liberal Party Rep. Emi G. Calixto-Rubiano of Pasay City seeks to reset the forthcoming elections to October 2018 and is still pending in the Lower House.