De Lima urges COMELEC to urgently address reported issues on overseas absentee voting


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Re-electionist Senator Leila M. de Lima appealed to the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to address reported concerns and problems flagged by overseas absentee voters from different parts of the world.

De Lima, a former election lawyer, said COMELEC should not disregard the reported lack of effort from the Philippine posts to inform absentee voters about electoral processes, as it could deprive the latter of their right to suffrage, if not invalidate their votes.

“The recent concern raised by community leaders of OFWs about alleged lack of effort of some Philippine embassies and consulates to disseminate important election-related information and timely inform overseas Filipino voters about the electoral processes is truly alarming,” she said.

Nagsimula na ang absentee voting na magtatagal hanggang May 9, at kung hindi maayos na matugunan ang mga isyu na kinakaharap ng mga kababayan natin sa abroad ay maraming boto ang maaaring masayang, o kaya naman ay maging sanhi ng  iregularidad at pandaraya,” she added.

Recently, representatives of Filipino groups based in Hong Kong, Italy, Saudi Arabia, Canada, and the United States reportedly said that there could be disenfranchisement among overseas voters because of the alleged “unpreparedness” of some Philippine embassies and consulates in conducting the month-long polling exercise.

For one, according to Migrante Saudi Arabia Chairperson Marlon Gatdula, domestic helpers do not have “legal basis” for asking for a day off from their employers so they can vote.

There were also reports noting how there was supposedly no effort done on the part of consulates to make sure addresses of those on the list of voters are correct, which could result to a ballot being returned to the consulate concerned and ending up being wasted.

Notably, there are two modes of voting for overseas Filipinos in the 2022 elections – personal, where they appear in person at Philippine consulates and embassies to shade their ballots, or postal voting, where the consular offices mail the ballots to the voters, and the voters will send them back.

Amid ongoing concerns on absentee voting, De Lima also urged registered oversees voters to make sure that their ballots are sealed and remain vigilant when they cast their votes.

Mahalaga ang ating boto at dapat mabilang ito, kaya hinihikayat ko ang lahat ng ating mga kababayan sa iba’t ibang panig ng mundo, na bukod sa responsableng pagpili ng mga kandidato ay maging mapagmatyag sa mga posibleng pandaraya o iregularidad. Huwag nating hayaang masayang ang boto natin,” she said.

Reportedly, over 1.6 million Filipinos are registered to vote overseas – a drop for the first time since overseas elections began in 2004. More than 2 million Filipinos returned to the Philippines during the COVID-19 pandemic, some because of displacement. (30)

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