Comelec ready for possible effects of El Niño in May polls

MANILA — An official of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said on Wednesday that it is ready for the possible effects of the El Niño or prolonged dry spell to the May 13 mid-term elections, such as power interruptions.

“While we cannot do anything about the weather, what we can control is the response to any sort of lack power,” Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said in an interview.

Jimenez said they have generator sets available to be used in voting and canvassing centers, in case of power outages.

He said the vote counting machines (VCMs) have 16 hours of battery life and they also have reserve batteries.

“All things being equal, we expect that there will be enough battery power on a single fully charged battery to last the entire day. Nevertheless, we will be providing additional batteries for all our VCMs so that we are able to respond to it quickly,” Jimenez said.

Jimenez said they have good working relationship with utility firms, and they can ask them not to schedule power interruptions during the elections.

“We are able to get assurances of priority for election-related activity. We, for instance, give these power providers a list of the critical phases of the election process that we can’t afford to have power outages. If there’s any chance at all that power shortage can be scheduled, then they take that in consideration every time,” he said.

Early this month, Energy Undersecretary Felix William Fuentebella said power supply of the country’s three power grids is projected to remain normal and sufficient since El Niño’s impact will be minimal.

“We are expecting a weak El Niño and that will have a minimal impact on the power grid,” he said. Ferdinand Patinio/

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