120,000 OFWs register for polls

Published by rudy Date posted on July 3, 2009

MANILA, Philippines – Filipinos abroad are more eager to participate in the forthcoming 2010 presidential polls than past elections.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) yesterday reported a surge in the number of Filipinos in the United States and other countries who registered for overseas absentee voting (OAV).

“Since February, we have already recorded a total of 120,139 new OAV registrants and we expect the number to surge as the August 31 deadline for the registration nears,” Comelec Commissioner Nicodemo Ferrer said in an interview.

With the addition of more than 120,000 new registrants, there are now about half a million Filipinos who will likely participate and elect the country’s next president.

The United States posted the biggest number of registrants with 19,259, followed by China with 12,419 and United Arab Emirates and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with 8,489 and 6,746, respectively.

Ferrer said the Comelec has observed a sudden increase in the number of new OAV registrants in the past weeks.

“Since it’s going to be a presidential election, I think more Filipinos are interested to participate. We hope that at least a million Filipino migrants can register and vote in next year’s polls,” Ferrer said.

Yesterday, the Comelec inked an agreement with the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to set up a pre-departure registration center at the OWWA reintegration center building in Intramuros in Manila.

OWWA chief Carmelita Dimzon said about 1,200 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who undergo a pre-departure orientation seminar at OWWA daily could also register for the upcoming polls.

“The setting up of the registration center can help facilitate wider voter registration among overseas workers transacting business and other concerns at OWWA,” Dimzon noted.

Registration centers were previously set up at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) so OFWs can register before departure for employment abroad.

Ferrer said the Comelec at this time is still expecting to implement automated elections for Filipinos abroad, particularly in Hong Kong.

“We will try to negotiate with the provider to set up automated election machines even in Hong Kong so we could pilot-test the system there,” Ferrer disclosed.

Automated election for OAV voters can be expensive but the Comelec has sufficient budget for this, he added.

Ferrer said the poll body may allot a portion of the P11.3-billion budget for automated elections for automated election machines for OAV voters.–Mayen Jaymalin, Philippine Star

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