The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Friday said it’s fully ready for the upcoming barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections in October.

“We are happy to inform the public that the Comelec is 100 percent ready to conduct the elections of the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan on October 30,” Comelec Spokesperson Rex Laudiangco said in a televised interview.

“We have already printed almost 92 million ballots that we’ll be using. All the election returns, statements of rules. And in fact, they have already been packed and ready for pre-deployment,” he said.

He added that Comelec is also set to train electoral board members by September, while the deployment of ballots and paraphernalia shall be done a few days before the election day.

Furthermore, the Comelec is now finalizing the venues of the pilot testing for mall voting nationwide, he said.

“The primary beneficiaries of this mall voting will be those residing in barangays with close proximity to the malls… Our countrymen should not commute going to the malls, it should be walking distance from their residences,” Laudiangco said.

He said they are looking at about a million mall voting beneficiaries for its pilot test.

Drug test

Meanwhile, Laudiangco said that although the Comelec is in favor of conducting drug testing among barangay and SK candidates, he said requiring drug testing remains unconstitutional.

“If we can remember sometime in the 2007 elections. That part of the requirement for a negative drug testing certificate was already tried by the Commission on Elections. Unfortunately, we were brought to the Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court struck down our resolution,” he said.

In November 2008, the Supreme Court ruled the said Comelec’s resolution was unconstitutional, under the case of social justice and Aquilino Pimentel Jr. vs. Comelec.

Interior and Local Government Secretary Benhur Abalos has earlier called on aspiring candidates to undergo drug testing.

The Philippine National Police has also said that over 400 barangay officials were reportedly linked to illegal drug transactions, most of whom are supposedly in western Visayas.

Laudiangco, however, noted that candidates may still respond to the call through voluntary drug testing.

“Voluntary drug testing is very much welcomed,” he said. (PNA)