The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Monday said it will release this week an initial list of candidates for the May elections.
Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said that the list is not yet final, "but it'll be closer to the final list."
"We're gonna post the list of names soon," Jimenez told reporters. "Ma-post natin 'yung list sa website natin para makita natin 'yung spelling ng pangalan."
Jimenez said that the initial list includes at least 20 presidential aspirants, including those whose candidacies have been deemed nuisance by the Comelec en banc, but are on appeal before the Supreme Court (SC).
Jimenez said that the poll body is looking at the number of candidates for president being trimmed down to a single digit.
The Comelec loaded initial data into its election management system late December, which includes 23 names for president, six for vice president, 68 for senator, and 119 for party-list groups.
Meanwhile, Jimenez said that the Comelec would not want to rush the final list of candidates.
"We just wanna make sure hindi tayo nagmamadali magpasok ng pangalan sa balota... 'Yung list of candidates, importanteng ma-finalize 'yan before mag-printing of ballots."
He said that the start of printing of ballots has been moved by a few days, from January 27 to February 1.
Still, Jimenez assured that "everything is within the timeline."
The Comelec has been looking to finalize its "draft" or the ballot face by January 20, so that candidates may double-check their names there.
This comes a day after the scheduled oral arguments at the SC for Sen. Grace Poe's appeals regarding the rulings to cancel her certificate of candidacy for president.
In a motion asking the SC to set the oral arguments to January 14, the poll body said 1,953 ballot faces "are required to be created."
It added that if the ballot face is not finalized within deadline, "it may compromise the schedule" of printing of [the official] ballots."
The Comelec had said that several pleadings being handled by the en banc has pushed back their efforts to finalize the complete list of candidates.
Aside from Poe's case, the Comelec is also tackling the disqualification cases filed against Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.
Duterte is facing four disqualification petitions, which have been ordered consolidated during a hearing last week. The cases have been submitted for resolution. —ALG, GMA News