PH gov’t urged to actively promote absentee voting among OFWs

PH gov’t urged to actively promote absentee voting among OFWs

By Ferdinand Patinio

MANILA — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is all set for the month-long overseas voting for the May midterm polls in 80 Philippine embassies and posts all over the world which begins on Saturday.

“I can say that we are 99 percent ready. There is no such thing as perfect 100 percent. So 99 percent. We are ready for the conduct of elections already. We are all set for this April 13 start of elections,” said Comelec-Office for Overseas Voting (OFOV) Director Elaiza David, in an interview Friday.

With this, David is hoping to get a higher absentee voters’ turnout.

“Hopefully, our turn out will be higher than 16 percent, somewhere in the 25 percent,” she said.

A total of 41 countries/posts will be using the vote counting machines (VCM), These are in Agana, Calgary, Chicago, Honolulu, Los Angeles, New York, Ottawa, San Francisco, Toronto, Vancouver, Washington, Brunei, Canberra, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Macau, Kaohsiung, Taichung, Taipei, Osaka, Seoul, Singapore, Syndey, Tokyo, Wellington, Athens, London, Madrid, Milan, Rome, Abu Dhabi, Beirut, Doha, Dubai, Jeddah, Kuwait, Manama, Muscat, Al-Khobar, Riyadh, and Tel Aviv.

Another mode of voting is the manual system which is either thru postal or personal voting.

Postal voting will be utilized in Brasilia, Buenos Aires, Mexico, Santiago, Bangkok, Beijing, Chongqing, Guangzhou, Hanoi, Islamabad, Port Moresby, Yangon, Ankara, Berlin, Berne, Brussels, Budapest, Geneva, Lisbon, Moscow, Oslo, Paris, Prague, The Hague, Vienna, Warsaw, Abuja, Cairo, and Pretoria.

On the other hand, the following posts will be using personal voting — Dhaka, Dili, Jakarta, Manado, New Delhi, Phnom Penh, Shanghai, Vientiane, Xiamen, Vatican, Amman, Nairobi, and Tehran.

For the 2019 polls, there are a total of 1,822,173 overseas voters, 1,779,140 are land-based workers while sea-based workers totaled 43,033.

In terms of geographical locations, the Middle East and African Region had the highest number with 887,744; followed by the Asia Pacific Region with 401,390; North and Latin American Region with 345,415; and European Region with 187,624.

No overseas voting in conflict-hit areas

Meanwhile, Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said that there will be no overseas voting in three conflict-hit posts, namely, Damascus in Syria, Tripoli in Libya and Bagdhad in Iraq.

“These three won’t have elections because of prevailing local conditions,” said Jimenez in a separate interview.

The Comelec added that they are not expecting the conflicts to be resolved anytime soon.

“We don’t see elections happening there in the immediate foreseeable future,” Jimenez said.

Syria and Iraq have been marred by heavy fighting between armed groups and the Islamic State terror group.

Last week, the Presidential Council in Libya placed security forces on alert after units loyal to the rival Libyan National Army announced they have begun advancing towards Tripoli, triggering some limited clashes south of the capital that left one person dead. (PNA)

Coat of Arms of the Philippines

In a Facebook post, the Legal Network for Truthful Elections (LENTE) said that Philippine officials should launch last minute information campaigns to properly educate Pilipinos abroad.

“As overseas voting is about to start, we would like to request that our embassies all over the world work doubly hard to reach out and communicate to our overseas voters,” it added.

The group believes that the information drive would help address possible reservations of Filipinos in participating in the May 2019 elections.

“Such communication would greatly appease the fears and apprehensions of our voters as to the integrity of the process. This way also, disinformation would be corrected right away,” it said.

The group revealed that they received information that several Filipinos in Singapore are concerned that their votes will not be counted since they are not the ones that will insert their accomplished ballots into the vote counting machines.

“Such concern was brought about by the lack of communication to them of the change in their mode of voting,” said LENTE.

Data from the Comelec- Office for Overseas Voting (OFOV) show that there is a total of 1,822,173 overseas absentee voters.

There are various modes in casting their votes under the OAV, automated voting using the vote counting machines (VCMs), manual voting through posting and personal voting.

Filipinos abroad are only selecting candidates for national positions, 12 senators and one party-list group.

The OAV period will be from April 13 to May 13. (PNA)