By Stephanie Sevillano

BALLOT PRINTING. The Commission on Elections (Comelec) resumes the printing of pilot automated election system official ballots for the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE) in select areas at the National Printing Office in Quezon City on Wednesday (Sept. 27, 2023). The poll body said all accountable forms, including the ballots, will be deployed in October. (Screengrab from Comelec’s FB livestream)

MANILA – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Wednesday said it completed the printing of official ballots for the pilot automated Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE) in select areas in the country.

“Natapos po in one day ang printing. Ang naka-livestream na lang po ay (The printing was finished in one day. What was live-streamed was the) continuation of cutting and sheeting and inspection of ballots,” Comelec spokesperson John Rex Laudiangco told the Philippine News Agency in a Viber message.

The said batch accounts for the official ballots needed in Barangay Pasong Tamo in Quezon City District 6 with 60,766 voters; alongside Barangay Paliparan III and Barangay Zone II in Dasmariñas City, Cavite, with 51,435 and 1,475 registered voters, respectively.

Laudiangco, meanwhile, said the deployment of all accountable forms, including the ballots, will start next month.

In total, the official ballots for the pilot automated BSKE include 86,165 ballots for Barangay and 27,511 ballots for SK.

The poll body, however, said it shall prioritize the deployment of official ballots in far areas, particularly in Batanes, Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) including Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

No candidates, opponents

Based on its final data, the Comelec reported that there are eight barangays with no barangay captain candidate; 124 barangays with no aspiring SK chairperson; and 543 barangays with no SK member aspirants.

The area with the highest number of barangays with no candidates per elective position is recorded in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

Comelec Chairperson George Erwin Garcia said although this instance may not be the first time for BSKE, the upcoming shorter period of term may be considered as one of the factors.

“Mag-appoint po ng OIC (officer-in-charge) ang mayor. Meron na rin po na ganito nung 2018. Palagay ko lang po dahil sa short term (The mayor will appoint an OIC [for barangays with no candidates]. Similar cases already happened last 2018. I think this is because [it’s a] short term),” he told reporters.

Besides barangays with no candidates, the poll body also reported areas with unopposed barangay and SK bets.

These include 7,226 barangays with unopposed punong barangay candidates and 1,611 areas for aspiring barangay members; as well as 8,057 barangays with unopposed aspiring SK chairpersons and some 10,620 barangays with no opposition for SK members.

In total, the country needs to fill in 672,432 BSK positions for all 42,027 barangays nationwide.

Show cause orders

The Comelec moved the filing of disqualification cases against candidates allegedly involved in premature campaigning.

Garcia said around 30 complaints shall be filed by Friday following the reception of “unsatisfactory answers” from involved candidates.

As of Wednesday, 194 disqualification cases may be pursued after the poll body received answers from 404 BSK bets.

Dropped complaints rose to 207 due to a lack of factual basis while 2,875 show cause orders were issued to BSKE candidates. (PNA)