Overseas absentee voting starts
As 1.8 million Filipinos overseas start to head to the polls on Saturday for the monthlong absentee voting, a Catholic bishop reminded them on Friday to choose candidates who would not steal and would “truly work for the good of the country.”
According to Balanga Bishop Ruperto Santos, those voting overseas should think about how capable the candidates they would choose are in really helping them as well as their countrymen.
“Choose those [candidates] who will not steal your remittances nor pocket them. Decide for those who have goodness; that is, will do good, have good manners and have good examples to imitate,” Santos said on Friday.
He added that voters should also take into consideration that the candidate they will choose “fears God, honors God and fulfills His commandment.”
1.8 M absentee voters
Unlike regular voters, an overseas absentee voter can only choose national candidates, which are 12 senators and a party-list group.
For this midterms, more than 1.8 million Filipinos are registered as overseas voters, a 75-percent spike from the previous election.
Nearly all of them are land-based workers, while just a little over 43,000 are sea-based workers.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has urged Filipinos overseas to exercise their right to vote by participating in the monthlong absentee voting.
For this year’s election cycle, the poll body said it hoped that there would be an increase in the historically low turnout rate of overseas voters given that they have seen a surge of new registrants for the midterms.
During the last two midterm polls, turnout was only at 16 percent.
“Hopefully, our turnout will be higher than 16 percent, somewhere in the 25 percent,” Comelec’s overseas voting head Elaiza David said.
Historically low turnout
Historically, turnout during the midterms is low when compared to presidential elections.
In 2004, the Comelec saw a turnout rate of 64 percent, 26 percent in 2010 and 31 percent in 2016.
Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez earlier said there might be more overseas Filipinos willing to take part in the elections now because of what happened in 2016 when their votes were seen to be “very relevant” to a candidate.
Of the 83 embassies and posts, 41 will use vote-counting machines.
Among these are New York, San Francisco, Calgary, Hong Kong, Taipei, Singapore, Seoul, London, Madrid and Dubai.
The rest of the posts will use the manual system of voting, which is either made through postal service or personal voting.
Postal voting will be used in such areas as Paris, Mexico and Berlin, while personal voting will happen in Jakarta, Vatican and New Delhi, among others.
The Middle East and Africa accounts for the highest number of overseas voters at 887,744, followed by Asia-Pacific (401,390), North and Latin America (345,415) and Europe (187,624).
Meanwhile, Jimenez said no overseas voting would be held in Damascus, Baghdad and Tripoli because of the “prevailing local conditions.”
“We don’t see elections happening there in the immediate foreseeable future,” Jimenez said.
Early this week, a total deployment ban was imposed in Libya by the Department of Labor and Employment as fighting sparked anew in the North African country.
Syria and Iraq, however, remain gripped by war.
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