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Ballot printing yet to start as template still not done — Comelec

The printing of ballots for the midterm elections in May has yet to start due to the current lack of a completed template containing the images that will be printed on the ballots. "Wala pa, naglo-load pa lang. Matagal na proseso yun, naglo-loading pa lang ng images sa Cabuyao at saka dadalhin sa NPO [National Printing Office]. Baka hapon pa o bukas pa," Commission on Elections chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. said Monday. The printing was scheduled to start February 4 and finish 81 days after, or on April 25. In a separate interview, Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said the template is still being readied for publication online. "Almost 2,000 ballot faces na kailangan i-load sa sistema. We still think that we can start today [Monday],"  he said. Brillantes said the printing will commence once the NPO receives the images and ballot designs. The Comelec chairman is set to go to NPO in Quezon City Monday afternoon to see how the printing will be done. He said the first to be printed are the 10 final testing ballots in every precinct that will be used a week before the elections. "The printing of the actual ballots will start immediately after the testing. Tuloy-tuloy na yan, hindi na titigil yan hanggang matapos na," he said. He also assured the public that there will be no over-printing of ballots as each machine has a counter which will show how many it has printed. The machines are expected to print 650,000 ballots per day during the first week and one million per day in the second week. It will be working 18 hours for the actual printing and six hours for setting up and maintenance testing. The three printing machines are expected to churn out 300 ballots a minute. The NPO has a staff of 42 to man the machines in three shifts. The printers (Canon ColorStream and Hunkeler Systeme AG) and paper, imported from the Netherlands, cost P780 million. The NPO facility will also be housing 156 precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines that will validate the ballots before packaging and distribution. Ballots that will be rejected by the PCOS thrice will be shredded to ensure that they cannot be used. — BM, GMA News