MANILA, Philippines (Update 1) - The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Wednesday transferred 1 million ballots to the PhilPost warehouse in Manila.
Comelec Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal said a total of 1,528 packs totaling 1 million ballots were transferred from the National Printing Office in Quezon City to the PhilPost warehouse. The first to be transferred were ballots for Leyte province, followed by ballots for Romblon and Quezon province.
In an interview, Larrazabal said the ballots for Leyte were shipped out first since these were the ones most recently completed. He said Comelec decided to transfer some of the ballots since the NPO basement is almost filled by the 27 million special ballots that were already printed.
"We cannot put all the ballots in NPO but majority will be stored at the PhilPost warehouse...If the political parties were at the NPO and see how the ballots are stacked, they would realize that we really need to transfer some of the ballots," he said in a radio dzMM interview.
Larrazabal said NPO printers are churning out 700,000 to 900,000 ballots every day. He added that the Comelec is on track to beat the April 30 deadline to print all 50 million ballots needed for the May 10 automated elections.
The Comelec official, meanwhile, chided some political parties for complaining that they were not informed about the decision to transfer some of the ballots to the PhilPost warehouse. He said the poll body informed the parties in advance about the transfer and even posted the notice on the Comelec website.
He also downplayed the complaint of a Liberal Party lawyer who questioned the timing of the transfer of ballots on Holy Week. "Just because it's Holy Week doesn't mean you stop working. This is our job and we are mandated to do it," he said.
He added that the PhilPost warehouse is well secured since the new ballot boxes to be used in the May 10 polls are already there.
Larrazabal said political parties may accompany the ballots in transit until they are delivered. He said the ballots will be scanned before departure from the NPO and then scanned again upon entry into PhilPost's Manila facility.