#VotePH2022: COVID, power woes loom as poll concerns

MANILA, Philippines — Not only the ongoing surge in COVID-19 infections but also the thin power supply in the summer months may impact preparations for the May 9 elections, officials said on Tuesday.

With the three-month-long printing of official ballots likely to be hampered by the pandemic surge, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) announced contingency plans such as scheduling by-batch work for the National Printing Office (NPO) staff and hiring a reserve pool of workers to meet its deadline of printing all 67,442,714 ballots by April 21.

Election officials had to resort to a “virtual walk-through” of NPO operations in Quezon City on Tuesday, ahead of the expected start of the printing of ballots on Wednesday, because some NPO employees had come down with COVID-19.

“We are foreseeing that the pandemic will hamper our timeline,” said Comelec deputy executive director for administration Helen Aguila Flores, who watched the prerecorded NPO briefer through a video link with other Comelec officials, stakeholders and members of the media.

The NPO, which has a P1.3-billion contract with the Comelec, will print the 1,697,202 ballots for registered overseas voters first and then the ballots for the record 65,745,512 registered voters who will troop to the polls on May 9, she said.

On Monday the Comelec was still finalizing the ballot face template. The latest official list of candidates has 10 for president, nine for vice president, 64 for senator and 177 for party-list group.

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