Migrante Int’l warns of massive voters’ disenfranchisement among OFWs

Group blames Comelec’s late preparations

Overseas absentee voting may be far lower in this year’s elections, a migrant group warned, saying “concerning” late preparations by the poll body are to be blamed if it happens.

In a press conference on Tuesday, Migrante International (MI) said many overseas Filipinos may be disenfranchised or, at least, will not be given enough time to choose the best candidates for national elective posts.

MI said these are “due to the utter disregard of government officials in foreign posts on the significance of this year’s OAV presidential elections following the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Overseas absentee voting (OAV) starts on April 10 where overseas registered Filipino voters may vote for the country’s next president, vice president and 12 senators.

Migrant Filipino workers in Hong Kong line up outside the polling precinct in the 2016 elections. (Photo by Bayan Muna Hong Kong)

MI pointed out that in Hong Kong, the Consulate General in the Chinese territory held no meetings or consultations on the conduct of the elections until a Filipino community leader wrote to raise their concerns regarding the OAV.

“As of this writing, inspections of the ballot, voting machines and the place where the elections are still to be held,” MI said.

MI said its chapters in other countries report problems on polling places accessibility, poor mailing system of ballots, payment of postage stamps, as well as late delivery of and inspections of voting counting machines and other election paraphernalia.

DFA infographic

Low AOV turnout remains a problem despite a substantial increase in registered overseas voters, MI added.

There are 1.8 milliion registered overseas voters this year, the Department of Foreign Affairs reported.

The Commission on Elections Office of Overseas Voting said with Middle East & Africa leads with 786,997 registered overseas voters, Asia Pacific with 450,282; North & Latin America with 306,445; and Europe with 153,491.

In the 2016 presidential elections however, only 31.45 % cast their votes, a number that substantially decreased at 18.47% in the 2019 mid-term elections.

MI said their group continues to hold hope this year’s polls would elect new leaders who will address the root causes of forced migration in order for Filipinos to stop opting to work overseas. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Joma says Leody is the best candidate

Jose Maria Sison, National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) chief political consultant, said Leody de Guzman is the best among the candidates in the May 2022 presidential elections.

In a tweet on Thursday, March 3, Sison praised de Guzman’s candidacy and said he wishes the labor leader the best.

“Despite his lack of financial resources, he is the best of the presidential candidates in the 2022 elections,” Sison wrote on his Twitter account.

“Whatever is the outcome of his electoral campaign, he advances the just cause of the Filipino people in the struggle for national and social liberation,” one of the country’s most prominent political personalities added.

Sison was reacting to de Guzman’s answer to a media interview on what he thinks of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) co-founder who had been labelled as so-called terrorist by the Philippine government.

“I believe he is a revolutionary, not a terrorist,” de Guzman told One PH program “’Wag Po!” on Tuesday evening.

“If the issue is that he’s called a terrorist, not for me. My view of him is that Joma Sison is a revolutionary individual,” the candidate added.

Sison thanked de Guzman for defending him against the “false charge of terrorism.”

“For making his statement below, he is a principled and courageous political leader from the working class,” Sison said.

De Guzman is the presidential candidate most open to resuming formal peace negotiations with the NDFP, saying he had been espousing many of the same advocacies as those who were forced by social injustices to take up arms.

He also repeatedly said he does not consider the CPP, the New People’s Army and the NDFP as terrorist organizations.

“We should begin with an honest-to-goodness recognition they are not terrorists. We should acknowledge that their issues are legitimate,” he said.

If elected, de Guzman said his administration shall try to overturn the social system that makes rich people richer and the poor poorer. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)