Become formidable political force, Filipino expats in Saudi told

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More than 400 Filipino workers in Jeddah have registered for overseas absentee voting in the 2016 general election in the Philippines since the process began on May 6.

Officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila are calling on all Filipinos living abroad to register for the overseas voting for the upcoming national election.

Undersecretary Rafael Seguis, who is also the chairman of the Overseas Voting Secretariat, said: “Presidential elections on May 9, 2016, will be a pivotal moment for all Filipinos wherever they maybe ... don’t miss your chance to turn your economic power into formidable political force for effecting and sustaining change in our country.”

Under the Republic Act No. 9189, otherwise known as “The Overseas Absentee Voting Act of 2003”, as amended by Republic Act No. 10590, all citizens of the Philippines abroad, who are not otherwise disqualified by law and at least 18 years on the day of the voting, are eligible to register.

Continued registrations

Consul Leo Tito Ausan Jr. said 362 new voters have registered in Jeddah in 11 days until May 20 and 54 others have corrected their registration status.

The registration will continue until Oct. 31, 2015.

Ausan said the consulate has not started weekend registrations, as they are still strengthening the registration team’s capabilities.

Ausan said he expects the number of registrants to exceed 1,000 in the next few weeks, as they will be holding overseas voting registration camps in Khamis Mushayt, Abha and Tabuk as part of their consular outreach program.

Meanwhile, The Kaagapay ng Bawat OFW (KBO) advocacy group pledged its support for the ongoing registration process. During a courtesy call to Seguis in Manila last week, KBO said they would use all means of communication to encourage registration for the overseas voting, especially in the Kingdom, which is home to an estimated 1.2 million Filipinos.

Not all willing participants

The group has requested Seguis to place a suggestion box in the Philippine Embassy and in the consulate during the registration period for those who do not like to participate in the process.

The group’s chairman said those who don’t want to register could air their reasons.

“We met a lot of Filipinos in Jeddah alone who do not want to register and participate in the election and when we asked why, most of them simply said, ‘nothing will change’,” said Atoy Esguerra, the groups’ coordinator.

But Ausan expressed optimism, saying the registration process would pick up momentum.

“We just have to work harder. In the overseas registration conducted in 2012 for the 2013 elections, only a little more than 1,600 Filipinos registered with the consulate. It seems certain that this time, in just one month we could possibly surpass that number.”

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