THE COMMISSION on Elections (Comelec) will start printing ballots for the May elections this week and expects to finish it by April, according to its deputy executive director.

Comelec will print 67.4 million ballots — 65.7 million for local and 1.7 million for overseas voting, Helen C. Aguila-Flores, who is also vice chairperson of the election body’s printing committee, told an online news briefing on Tuesday.

Ballots for the national and local elections would contain 178 party-list, 64 senatorial, nine vice-presidential and 10 presidential candidates, said the official, who gave a virtual walkthrough of the National Printing Office in Quezon City.

Ms. Flores said the ballots are in the final stage of proofreading, adding that printing, which would cost P1.3 billion, would finish between April 12 and 21.

Printing would start on Jan. 20, Comelec spokesman James B. Jimenez separately told the ABS-CBN News Channel.

Ms. Flores said the state-owned printing office houses four printers, three of which would be running and one would be for contingencies.

Under the law, the National Printing Office prints election ballots, accountable forms and other public documents.

The walkthrough is supposed to show the Comelec’s commitment to transparency and accountability during the election season.

The tour was initially planned to be held in person, but had to be done through the Zoom Cloud Meetings app amid a fresh surge in coronavirus infections. — John Victor D. Ordoñez