Saturday, May 1, 2010

Filipinos abroad urged to vote

May 1, 2010, 9:52pm

Original Story:

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has instructed all 93 Philippine embassies and consulates-general to tap all Filipino communities abroad to ensure that those who are registered for the overseas absentee voting (OAV) will exercise their right to vote as only more than 80,000 have cast their votes out of 589,830 registrants.

“The cooperation, assistance, and support of all Filipino community leaders and organizations are keys to ensuring the success of the OAV exercise. It is one’s civic responsibility to cast his vote during elections,” Rafael Seguis, DFA Undersecretary for Special Concerns and OAV Secretariat (OAVS) chairman, said.

Seguis said he remains optimistic the voter-turnout figure will continue to increase in the last week of the month-long overseas absentee voting, which ends on May 10.

“The DFA instructed all embassies and consulates-general to exhaust all efforts in the interest of encouraging our countrymen abroad to go out and exercise their right to vote their country’s next set of leaders,” Seguis said.

As of 4 p.m. Friday, there were only 80,129 overseas absentee voters who had cast their votes.

Topping the list are the Filipinos based in Hong Kong with 22,607 voters, followed by those in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, 6,182 ballots, and Singapore, 4,928 voters. Both Hong Kong and Singapore are having automated elections.

Other foreign service posts with the highest number of voters are those in Jeddah and Al Khobar, both in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Los Angeles, California, USA; Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates; and London, United Kingdom.

Seguis said most embassies and consulates-general are open to the public seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. until 6 p.m. of May 10 (Philippine time).

The overseas absentee voters have the opportunity to elect the next President, Vice President, 12 senators, and one party-list representative.

There are three modes of voting used in the OAV exercise – automated voting using Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines in Hong Kong and Singapore, and personal voting and postal voting in other embassies and consulates-general.

There are 589,830 OFWs registered for this year’s OAV. Out of these voters, 568,733 are land-based and 21,097 are seafarers. The biggest bulk comes from the Middle East and Africas, comprising of 225,148 voters, followed by countries in Asia-Pacific at 215,546, and North and South America at 66,745.

In Singapore and Hong Kong, where an automated mode of voting is being conducted, 95,355 are registered overseas absentee voters in Hong Kong while 31,851 are in Singapore.

Meanwhile, the DFA belied reports that indelible ink has not been used in the process of overseas absentee voting (OAV) in some parts of Saudi Arabia.

“The DFA-Overseas Absentee Voting Secretariat (OAVS) and the Commission on Elections (Comelec) stated that the polling precincts in the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and the Philippine Labor Office (POLO) in Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia have used indelible ink in the voting process, and the Comelec is rushing additional supplies to said places, amid a report that the inks may have run out,” DFA spokesman Ed Malaya said.

International migrant organization Migrante International has been claiming that indelible ink has not been used in some polling precincts in the said areas.

“After consulting with Comelec Commissioner Armando Velasco, OAV Vice Chair Nestor Padalhin stated that there has been no reported ‘flying voter’ incident in any overseas precinct,” he added.

“This is due to the fact that there are relatively few precincts in a place [like Riyadh and Al Khobar],” Malaya explained.

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