Jan 272013

More than 52 million ballots for the May 2013 midterm elections are set for printing next week, February 4, an official of the National Printing Office (NPO) said Monday.

Assistant Director Raul Nagrampa told GMA News Online that the NPO can have a minimum of 670,000 to a maximum of one million ballots to be printed per day, for them to meet their last delivery date of printed ballots on April 25.

The printing will run for 54 to a maximum of 81 days, Nagrampa said.

“As far as NPO is concerned, ready to go na kami… The papers are already here,” Nagrampa said in a phone interview. The state-run NPO was tasked by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to head the procurement process of the printing and supply of ballot papers.

Nagrampa said they are expecting a shorter ballot after the Comelec purged the number of qualified party-list groups to 123, including the slew of party-lists axed by the poll body but granted a reprieve by the Supreme Court. This is a decrease from the 187 party-lists which participated in the 2010 elections.

“We’re anticipating a shorter (ballot) kasi una, na-purge ‘yung party-list. Walang president or vice president. ‘Yun lang naman nakakapagpahaba,” Nagrampa said.

The maximum length of the ballot paper may range from 25 to 26 inches, Nagrampa said. Meanwhile, the ballots for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) may be longer at 29 inches since it includes an Arabic translation.

He added that the three printers – supplied by winning bidder Holy Family Corp. – are already set up in the NPO basement.

Holy Family led a joint venture with Canon Group, the supplier and assembler of the printers which came from Germany.  

Holy Family’s competency had been questioned by the losing bidders after the precinct count optical scan machines failed to read some of the ballot papers. Both Holy Family and NPO have denied the accusations.

Nagrampa said there will be a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the NPO on January 30, Wednesday, for the official start of the ballot printing next week. The event will be graced by Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr.  — Marc Cayabyab/RSJ, GMA News

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