March 21, 2022
MANILA — At least 2 million printed ballots for the May 9 elections that were originally considered “defective” were declared “good” ballots after being rechecked.
George Garcia, newly assumed commissioner of the Commission on Elections (Comelec), admitted that he and Chair Saidamen Pangarungan were alarmed that a big chunk of the 49.7 million ballots printed at the National Printing Office (NPO) since Jan. 23 had to be shredded.
During the NPO walk-through on March 15 with election watchers and the media, Marlon Casquejo, ballot printing committee head commissioner, reported that out of the 49,737,783 ballots printed so far, 5,288,268 ballots were considered defective.
31.9M ‘good ballots’
Casquejo also said only 31,996,605 printed ballots were considered “good ballots,” which was 47.4 percent of the 67,442,616 ballots required on May 9.
“I was surprised. As [an election lawyer] practitioner, that’s a very high number [of defective ballots]. So we inquired why there [were] that many. We asked our printing committee,” Garcia said in a briefing at the Comelec headquarters on March 17.
He said the printing committee explained that so many ballots were declared defective because whenever a ballot from a certain precinct was found to be defective, the rest of the ballots for that precinct would automatically be discarded.
Garcia said the ballot quarantine group at the NPO “reverified” the defective ballots and within the same day, March 15, 2,092,577 ballots were found to be “good ballots” after all.
These 2 million additional ballots were turned over to the ballot exit group with the other ballots that were to be deployed starting April 20.
“Now here is the catch: How many were really found defective so far from the 5,288,268 [ballots originally declared [defective]? There are 103,350 ballots. Those are the defective, rejected ballots,” Garcia said.
He promised to show the defective ballots to poll observers next week during the random test of the printed ballots.
As of March 15, the Comelec reported that 37,332,899 ballots are ready to be deployed, representing 55 percent of the 67,442,616 total ballots needed for the May 9 elections.