Apr 032013

Comelec, Palace officials witness printing of last ballot

Comelec, Palace officials witness printing of last ballot . Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. (center), Comelec Commissioners Lucenito Tagle and Elias Yusoph, and Presidential Communications Operations Sec. Herminio Coloma (2nd left) witness the ceremonial printing of the last ballot at the National Printing Office in Quezon City on Wednesday. Tina Panganiban-Perez

For finishing the printing of more than 52 million ballots three weeks ahead of schedule, 485 personnel of National Printing Office (NPO) may receive bonuses as high as P25,000 for their “record-breaking performance,” officials said Wednesday.

Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) head Herminio Coloma Jr. said he has recommended to the Department of Budget and Management the giving of performance-based bonus to NPO employees, and that he is just waiting for the agency’s decision.

“Ang aking rekomendasyon ay naroroon na, ang NPO, dahil ang classification ay better [performing agency], ang pinakamataas na matatanggap ng best performer ng NPO ay P25,000,” he said in his speech during the ceremonial printing of the last ballot for the May 13 elections, amid chants of “bonus! bonus!” from the employees.

“Syempre ‘yung iba, wala naman ni isa sa inyo na unsatisfactory, lahat naman kayo ay at least good, meron ding minimum amount. ‘Yun, kung hindi ako nagkakamali, ay P5,000,” Coloma added.

The NPO is under PCOO.

Coloma also announced that he is giving NPO director Emmanuel Andaya a free hand to decide on how much the employees will receive.

“Binibigyan ko ng buong laya si Director Andaya na magpasya sapagkat alam ko naman na batid niya ang inyong malaking ambag sa proyektong ito. Siya ay bilib na bilib sa inyong nagawa at panatag ang aking kalooban na isasaalang-alang niya ang inyong kapakanan,” he said.

Andaya said he will announce his decision in two days. “In two days, baka kasi mainggit ‘yung Comelec kaya ayokong i-announce,” he said.

He added that the NPO also decided to give to its workers the funds saved due to the early end of the ballot printing.

“Ang available funds medyo malaki-laki, ibibigay na sa inyo. That is worth P27 million, ibibigay ang natirang pera sa inyo as a reward sa record-breaking performance,” said Andaya.

To see is to believe

Some NPO employees welcomed the announcement, although they maintained a to-see-is-to-believe attitude.

“Aasahan natin ‘yan kasi recommendation pa lang naman,” Chito Villa Agustin, printer operator-team leader, told  GMA News Online when asked for his comment on the announcement.

“Masaya, sino ba naman ang hindi sasaya kung lalaki ang bonus? Pero tignan muna natin,” Wenceslao Oderon Jr., jogger of the ballots, added.

Others expressed apprehension that only the high-ranking officials will be given the higher bonus.

“Baka sila lang ‘yan, ‘yung may P25,000, pero at least may siguradong P5,000,” said an NPO personnel who refused to be named.

The three admitted that they did not receive any bonus in 2010.

Job well done

In a separate interview with reporters, Coloma said he is happy with NPO’s performance as it was able to finish printing 52, 333, 801 ballots in just 57 days. The initial schedule was from February 4 to April 25.

“Maganda na within timeframe. Maganda na hindi nagmamadali dahil mas maayos ang latag ng balota at mas maliit ang tsansa na may defect,” he said.

He further said that the government was able to save P277 million in ballot printing this year compared in 2010.

“Nung 2010, umabot ng P1 billion ang gastos,” Coloma pointed out.

The last batch of ballots printed were for Barangay 186 in Pasay City.

Also present during the closing ceremonies were  Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. and commissioners Lucenito Tagle and Elias Yusoph.

Brillantes said the ballot printing cost this year was lower because a bidding was conducted unlike in 2010 when all the contracts were given to Smartmatic.

“May bidding aspect ito. Nung 2010, Smartmatic lahat, so it was private contracting. Ngayon may bidding so napunta kami sa mababa. The bidding conducted by NPO, awarding it to Holy Family, very reasonable ‘yung presyo at napakaganda ng performance at a very low price,” he said.

He admitted that he was surprised with the pace of the printing. “This is really record-breaking. I think this should set the manner of printing by NPO for all subsequent printing of all elections in the future.”

Asked when the ballots will be delivered, Brillantes refused to give details due to security reasons.

“Hindi namin sinasabi kailan. May security features ang deployment kasi. From here it will go to another warehouse, then it will go to our [regional] hubs, tapos distribute sa provinces, then cities hanggang sa presinto,” he said.

The poll chairman boasted that with all the ballots already printed, Comelec is ready for the elections.

“Hindi na po kami mapipigilan. Tapos na lahat. Everything is in the implementation stage. Tapos na lahat ng preparations. This is the evidence that we are ready for the 2013 elections,” Brillantes said. — KBK, GMA News

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