Due to SCOTP order, Comelec eyes postponement of May 2016 elections


Due to the recent order of the Supreme Court of the Philippines (SCOTP) to produce voter receipts on Election Day, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) is looking at the possibility of postponing the May 9 national and local polls.

Comelec Chairman Juan Andres Bautista noted that moving the elections was among the options for them brought about by the ruling by the High Court.

“As I said earlier, this decision will materially affect our timeline. This morning, that (postponement of elections) is one of the options we are looking into and we want to know if we already need to move for the postponement of the elections,” he said at the sidelines of their emergency meeting at their warehouse in Sta. Rosa, Laguna on Wednesday.

But, the poll body chief explained that a law should be passed for the elections to be postponed.

“If it needs to be postponed, then let us postpone it. But it will not be easy… Unless otherwise provided by law, the elections shall be held second Monday of May,” he added.

Bautista added that aside from moving the date, they are still evaluating their existing timetable and on how the SC ruling will impact it.

“Specifically, we want to know the impact to our election timetable, its impact to the overseas voting, and the impact on Election Day. We want to know how it can disrupt or be a nuisance to the process on Election Day,” he said.

Bautista said that they will be consulting with their service provider, Smartmatic International, as well as other members of their Project Management Office (PMO) on other details of its effects to their poll preparations.

“We are looking at what are the things we can do to enforce this directive of the SC. We want to know specifically what would be the consequences or implications if a voter receipt printing is implemented,” he said.

With this, a special en banc meeting has already been scheduled for Thursday for the members of the commission.

Bautista revealed that they are already talking with the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) regarding the filing of a motion for reconsideration (MR) including the request for them to be able to hold a vote counting machine (VCM) demonstration, before the SC.

“What we actually want is for a chance for us to demonstrate our machines to the SC so that the justices can see for themselves how it operates, its features, and the reasons why we believe that it will be complicated or on how the disadvantages will outweigh the advantages of printing voter receipts,” he said.

On Tuesday, the SC unanimously voted to direct the Comelec to issue receipts to voters on Election Day to serve as the voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT). (PNA / By Ferdinand G. Patinio)


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