Party-list purge to save gov’t millions, says ComelecBy Jocelyn R. Uy
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The Commision on Elections (Comelec) is expecting to save millions in government funds in next year’s elections with its move to trim the participating party-list groups to only those that are compliant with the law.
Election Commissioner Rene Sarmiento said the Comelec’s decision to disqualify dubious organizations supposedly representing marginalized sectors would also mean lesser ballot forms to be printed and for the voters, shorter queuing time to cast their ballots.
In the 2010 elections, more than 180 groups were allowed to participate in the elections, which entailed longer ballots, Sarmiento said in an interview with reporters.
For the coming polls, the Comelec is looking at less than 100 organizations to be printed in the ballot should the Supreme Court eventually decide in favor of the election body, which disqualified 194 new and existing party-list groups from the 2013 midterm balloting.
So far, only 83 groups have been officially allowed to seek congressional seats through the party-list system elections. But more than 50, whose accreditation were either denied or canceled by the Comelec, were able to seek relief from the Supreme Court.
“If we are looking at less than 120 groups joining next year, that means lesser ballots for printing plus voters will save time going over the list when they cast their votes so that also means faster voting,” said Sarmiento.
He said savings could be “millions in pesos” if there was a shorter list of party-list groups since imported and high-quality paper as well as special ink and bar codes were used for the ballot papers.
The National Printing Office has awarded the P780-million contract to supply and print 55 million ballots for the coming elections to the Holy Family Printing Corp. and its partner Canon Marketing Philippines.
Sarmiento also said a shorter ballot listing would improve the overall voting experience as voters will no longer have to take so much time looking for their choice of party-list group, thus cutting short voting time.
“There are really pluses if ballots are shorter,” he said.
For the first time in the recent history of the party-list system elections, the Comelec decided to review the qualifications of party-list groups vying representation in Congress.
It earlier admitted that the system was becoming a joke with the presence of bogus groups, whose nominees were either multimillionaires or members of a powerful political clan in the country.
Under the law and existing jurisprudence, only those belonging to the marginalized and underrepresented sector of society should be allowed to participate in the party-list system of elections.