Comelec chief: Polls to push through May 9

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Workers of the National Printing Office (NPO) wait for the resumption of printing of the 2016 official ballots, Thursday. The printing of the ballots was stalled due to a complaint filed by presidential candidate Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago due to the exclusion of the name of her party on the printed ballots.(MNS photo)

Workers of the National Printing Office (NPO) wait for the resumption of printing of the 2016 official ballots, Thursday. The printing of the ballots was stalled due to a complaint filed by presidential candidate Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago due to the exclusion of the name of her party on the printed ballots.(MNS photo)

MANILA  (Mabuhay) – Commission on Elections chairman Andres Bautista on Thursday said the national elections will push through on May 9, despite its opposition to a Supreme Court decision requiring the poll body to print voter receipts.

Bautista gave the assurance during oral arguments at the SC on the activation of the voter verification paper audit trail (VVPAT) feature of the vote counting machines for the May polls.

The poll body chief gave the comment following a question during interpellation by Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, who wrote the decision on the VVPAT petition.

“Are you up to the challenge to make sure that even with the receipt, that you will do all you can in order to meet all of these problems? Or are you giving up?” asked the magistrate.

“No. We will do all we can,” responded Bautista.

The poll chief said they will “try our best” to follow whatever decision the high court would render on the VVPAT issue and ensure there will be credible polls.

Leonen pressed further to elicit a categorical answer from Bautista that the elections will push through on May 9.

“You will do your utmost, given your exemplary capabilities, to make credible elections and that there will be no postponement of the elections,” asked Leonen.

Bautista replied: “You can rest assured that we will do our best given the circumstances.”

Earlier on Thursday, Solicitor General Florin Hilbay told the SC that the requirement for voting receipts would impose a “substantial unanticipated burden” on the Comelec, as well as on teachers manning the polling precincts.

Speaking during the oral arguments, Hilbay said that while printing receipts would result in a “marginal” improvement, it would still be burdensome and make the elections vulnerable to cheating.

Hilbay said just the on-screen verification feature of the machines would already add 2.5 hours on the durations of the polls. Printing receipts would push the timeline for conducting the poll further by another 2.5 hours.

He however assured the justices that even without printing receipts, the Comelec is reasonably confident about its ability to perform its statutory and constitutional mandate on May 9. (MNS)

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