COMMISSION on Elections Chairman Andres Bautista said Thursday that the P600 million spent on printing ballots and other preparatory activities would not be wasted if the barangay and youth elections are postponed.
In an interview before a Senate hearing on the Comelec 2018 budget, Bautista said some 26-million ballots for the barangay elections, and about 1.6 million ballots for the Sangguniang Kabataan polls have already been printed, but these can be used in future elections.
“The expenses also cover overtime because of employees, personnel, and mobilization expenses, but not all expenses would be put to waste,” Bautisa said. “We are now studying how we can use the printed ballots for the next elections.”
Bautista noted that since the barangay and youth elections are not automated, the voters have to write the names of the candidates on the ballots. This means the ballots already printed can still be used.
President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to approve a bill passed by Congress postponing the barangay and SK polls slated for October.
Earlier, the President pushed for the postponement of elections, saying a majority of local officials are involved in illegal drug trade. He also wanted to appoint officers-in-charge for barangays.
Both the House of Representatives and the Senate have passed their respective versions of bills postponing the elections from Oct. 23, 2017 to the second Monday of May 2018.
Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto II said the House is expected to adopt the Senate version Monday so the bills would no longer be referred to the bicameral conference committee.
The Senate bill was approve with 17-1, with the negative vote being cast by Senator Risa Hontiveros.
Under the Senate version of the bill, barangay officials will be allowed to continue exercising their functions in a holdover capacity. There is no provision to allow the President to appoint OICs.
In the House, Kabayan Party-List Rep. Harry Roque said Bautista should not to celebrate yet over the decision of the House committee on justice to dismiss outright the impeachment complaint filed against him.
Roque said the House of Representatives has not absolved Bautista from anything despite the junking of the impeachment complaint against him after finding it insufficient in form.
“He has not been absolved. Congress did not say he has nothing to answer for,” Roque, one of the endorsers of the impeachment complaint, said in Filipino.
“He should not say he has cleared his name. Excuse me. Congress did not say he did nothing wrong,” Roque added.
Despite the dismissal of the impeachment complaint against Bautista, Roque said the National Bureau of Investigation continues to investigate the charges of corruption against the Comelec chief.
Bautista’s estranged wife Patricia earlier accused the Comelec chairman of amassing close to P1 billion in unexplained wealth that was not declared in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth.