The Commission on Elections has started the printing of more than 50 million ballots for the May 13, 2019 elections but will print first the ballots for overseas absentee voting.
Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez assured the public that the poll body is on schedule to meet the deadline as the National Printing Corp. will be printing at least one million ballots a day.
He said 63 names running for the senate positions will be included in the ballots, including Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III and former Senator Sergio Osmeña III whose disqualification cases are still being heard.
Jimenez said the two senators names cannot be excluded from the ballot at this point because that would open the floodgates for frivolous disqualification cases.
The Comelec filed disqualification charges against Osmeña from running in public office due to his alleged failure to file his Statement of Contributions and Expenses during his 2010 and 2016 Senate bids.
Pimentel is facing disqualification case filed by lawyer Ferdinand Topacio, who claimed that the senator has breached the constitutional provision of limiting a senator’s tenure to two consecutive Senate terms. Vito Barcelo
Pimentel first won a Senate seat in the 2007 polls, but he was only proclaimed winner in August 2011 after the Senate Electoral Tribunal ruled in favor of his election protest against Juan Miguel Zubiri.
“Disqualification cases cannot be resolved immediately,” Jimenez said.
Meanwhile, a group claims Comelec said that not all party-list groups accredited by the Comelec represent the interests of well-entrenched political dynasties and big business interests.
Election watchdog Kontra Daya said the Comelec should review the appeals of party-list groups which had been excluded from the certified list of candidates, to ensure marginalized groups remain represented in the 2019 elections.
In a statement on Friday, the Kontra Daya said nearly half of party-list groups included in the official list of candidates were those of the “rich and powerful,” who did not represent marginalized sectors.
“Reducing the number of duly-registered PLs [party-lists] by disqualifying groups that actually represent the marginalized does not solve the mockery of the party-list system as it remains controlled by the rich and powerful,” Kontra Daya said.
“It is possible that about half of the Comelec accredited party-list groups still represent the interests of well-entrenched political dynasties and big business interests,” they added.
Kontra Daya made the statement after the Comelec on Thursday, Jan. 31, trimmed the list of party-list groups included in the 2019 elections from 185 groups to 134.
But Kontra Day said that as of this number, at least 62 groups had links to political dynasties, represented special business interests, or had “questionable advocacies and nominees.”
Konntra Daya said partylists groups which have ties with elected officials include the following: ABONO (Estrellas, Ortegas); LPGMA (Albanos, Tys)
Tingog Sirangan (Romualdez); AAMBIS-OWA (Garins, Birons); Aangat Tayo (Abayons, Ongs); Agbiag (Antonios of Cagayan); PROBINSYANO AKO (Fariñas); AA-KASOSYO (Pangandamans); MATA (Velascos of Marinduque and SBP (Belmontes of Quezon City).
Kontra Daya also claimed that the party-list group 1AAAP fielded former House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez’s daughter as its first nominee, while ABAMIN’s first nominee is the wife of former congressman Maximo Rodriguez.
The group also questioned the advocates of party-list group Duterte Youth, whose chairman is the National Youth Commission Chair Ronald Cardema.
Cardema had earlier called on all Sangguniang Kabataan officials to “fight” youth leaders allied with the communist New People’s Army.
Kontra Daya also added that party-list groups such as the Manggagawa Party-list, Aksyon Health Workers, and People Surge organized by Yolanda victims were disqualified from the race.
“These groups were organized by the marginalized sectors themselves as evidenced by their nominees,” they said. For this reason, Kontra Daya urged the Comelec to consider the appeals of such groups.
In 2013, the Supreme Court upheld the Constitution’s intent that the party list is not only for the marginalized sectors but also for regional parties and smaller political parties, among others.