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NPO exec: Latest technology to be used in printing May poll ballots

The government is confident it will finish the printing of ballots for the May automated elections in 65 days—well within the 81-day prescribed period for the activity—through the use of world-class technology. “We are confident that we will be able to do it in 65 days,” Raul Nagrampa, National Printing Office (NPO) assistant director, told reporters in an interview Wednesday during the blessing and ribbon-cutting ceremony for the facility at the NPO basement where the ballots will be printed. The prescribed period for the printing will be from February 4 to April 25, 2013. NPO director Emmanuel Andaya cited new technology as the reason why they are confident that the task will be finished two weeks ahead of schedule. “The technology of the printing machines we chose for this project is the latest in the world that we are confident of finishing the printing two weeks ahead of schedule, God willing. And we are going to do this with lesser budget compared to the 2010 ballot printing,” he said in his speech. Present during Wednesday's ceremony were officials from the Commission on Elections (Comelec), Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO), and NPO. Heart of the elections “This is the commencement of our electoral process. NPO will be the starting line. The ballot is the heart of the elections. Kung walang balota, walang bibilangin,” Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. said in his speech. Andaya said the ballots will have five security features. The 5,000-square meter facility will also be secured as it will be covered with closed-circuit cameras and biometrics. He said they will be printing 650,000 ballots per day during the first week and 1 million per day in the second week. “Our machines will serve 18 hours a day,” he said, adding they have three printing machines that are expected to churn out 300 ballots each every minute. Nagrampa said the 18 hours will be for the actual printing. For the setting up and maintenance testing, it will be six hours. The NPO has 42 staff to man the machines in three shifts. The machines (Canon color stream printers and Hunkeler System AG) and paper, imported from the Netherlands, cost P780 million. At present, 38 percent or 600 metric tons imported paper are stored in the NPO stock room. The remaining 1,000 metric tons of paper are now onboard a ship and expected to arrive to the country by next week. The NPO facility will also be housing 156 precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines that will validate the ballots before packaging and distribution. The ballots that will be rejected by the PCOS thrice will be shredded to ensure that it will no longer be used. No overprinting Brillantes said they will ensure that there will be no overprinting of ballots. “We wanted a credible election that will be acceptable to the people. Importante sa amin ang credibility at acceptability,” he said. Nagrampa said Comelec will give them the PDF file of the actual number of voters in a precinct. PCOO head Herminio Coloma said the NPO facility is an example of best practices and world-class printing facility. Coloma also said the NPO, which is under the PCOO, complied with all the control and screening procedures demanded by the Comelec. The campaign period for the senators and party-list groups will start on February 12 while for congressional and local candidates it will be on March 29. — KBK, GMA News