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.
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.
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)