Only about half of the number of political candidates seeking election in May for various elective positions in Dumaguete City appeared Saturday for the signing of the peace covenant, city election officer Gildu Agoncillo said.
Two candidates for mayor, Mercedario Generoso and Quirino Ramirez, were present while the two other candidates, incumbent Vice Mayor Woodrow Maquiling Sr. and Felipe Antonio Remollo were not around, Agoncillo said.
Remollo was represented by his cousin, incumbent Councilor Antonio Remollo, he added.
Around 13 candidates for councilors were also present.
The Philippine National Police, who is initiating the signing of peace covenants in the different towns and cities in the province, in coordination with the Comelec, will go to the houses of the candidates who were absent Saturday so they can sign the peace covenant, Agoncillo said.
He added he does not have any idea why the other candidates were absent during the peace covenant signing when they were all notified of it.
Meanwhile, Agoncillo said no opposition was raised during a public hearing on the proposed transfer of two clustered voting precincts from its previous school venue to a shopping mall in the capital.
He said that during Saturday's public hearing held at the Robinsons Place shopping mall, the more than 300 people who attended the activity did not have any objections at all to the proposal.
In fact, they welcomed the proposal, saying it would be more convenient for the registered voters of these precincts, especially persons with disabilities, to be voting instead at the mall in Barangay Calindagan, Agoncillo said.
The precincts that are recommended for transfer from the Dumaguete City High School in Barangay Calindagan are 105 A and B, 106 A and B, 107 A and B, and 108 A and B, he added.
He said 1,478 voters are registered in these two clustered precincts.
The city Comelec will consolidate and submit its report to the central office for final approval, Agoncillo said. Once it becomes final, his office will send out individual final notices to concerned voters of these Calindagan precincts regarding the transfer of venue, he added.
The Comelec also said it will start the printing of more than 55 million official ballots for the May 9 polls at the National Printing Office in Quezon City today.
Comelec chairman Andres Bautista said that the start of ballot printing will involve the dry run of the actual process.
“There will be several preparatory parts, just like in factories...so we will most likely have a dry run first this Monday,” he added.
The Comelec will be printing the ballots using the three Canon printers at the NPO. It will be printing ballots for the country's registered voters, numbering 54,363,844, overseas absentee voters at 1,376,067, and those needed in the final testing and sealing of the vote counting machines.
“It will be one (ballot) is to one (voter). I know there is a call for extra ballots. But it could pose a problem since it can be perceived as a potential tool for poll irregularities,” Bautista added.
He said they are looking to finish the ballot printing by April 25.
To be printed at the front face of the ballot are the names of candidates for president, vice president, senators, and party-list groups while the names of candidates for local positions, like mayors, governors, vice governors, vice mayors, and councilors, will likely be printed at the back face of the ballot.
Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said they are ready to commence with the printing.
“We have a buildup process in ballot printing, which we call ramping up. At the start, it will be a bit slow. But, at peak, it can average almost a million per day. So this will really be quick,” he said.
Jimenez added that all the ballots are precinct-specific, with a size that will be shorter than the 8½ by 26 inches used in the 2010 and 2013 elections.
“This is way shorter than the ones we had been using before, which was about as long as two long bond papers,” he said.
The original start of the ballot printing was Jan. 26 but it was moved twice -- first to Feb. 1 and then to Feb. 8.*JFP/PNA
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