Pinoys can cast votes via OAV
KUWAIT CITY, March 30: It’s all systems go for the upcoming 2016 Philippine national elections for some 1.3 million Overseas Filipino voters who will cast their votes via the Overseas Absentee Voting (OAV) which will commence worldwide on April 9, 2016 to May 9, 2016, disclosed Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Andres Bautista who arrived in Kuwait on Wednesday to spearhead the training of the Special Board of Election Inspectors and Special Board of Canvassers in preparation for the 2016 elections.
“We would like to encourage as many Overseas Filipinos to take advantage and let your voices be heard considering that you play a vital role in the Philippine economy. We are very hopeful that together with our partnership with the Department of Foreign Affairs, we will be able to conduct credible elections in our foreign posts,” stated Andres who was joined by Philippine Ambassador to Kuwait Renato Pedro Villa, Philippine Ambassador to Qatar Wilfredo Santos and Philippine Ambassador to Bahrain Alfonso Ver during the press conference on the sideline of the training on “Automated Election System — Vote Counting Machine and Consolidation and Canvassing System 2016 National Elections” that was attended by staff of Philippine embassies in Abu Dhabi (UAE), Lebanon, Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait as well as Consulate General in Dubai (UAE).
Based on the Comelec data, there are a total of 1,376,067 overseas voters registered for this year’s elections — the highest number of Filipino overseas voters, ever. There were only 737,759 overseas voters in the 2013 midterm elections. There are 85 Philippine posts overseas, with 30 set to use the automated election system while 26 will use the personal manual voting system and another 26 will adopt the postal manual voting system.
Among the posts that will use the automated election system are Abu Dhabi (UAE); Beirut, Lebanon; Doha, Qatar; Dubai, UAE; Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; Kuwait; Manama, Bahrain; Al Khobar Saudi Arabia; Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and Tel Aviv, Israel. Other posts are in the Asia Pacific such as Hong Kong; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Osaka, Japan; Seoul, South Korea; Singapore, Tokyo, Japan; in North and Latin America such as Agana, Guam; Chicago, USA; Honolulu, USA; Los Angeles, USA; New York, USA; Ottawa, Canada; San Francisco, USA; Toronto, Canada; Vancouver, Canada; Washington DC, USA; and in Europe namely London, United Kingdom; Madrid, Spain; Milan, Italy and Rome, Italy.
They will join the 54.4 million registered voters in the country in electing the next set of leaders, President, Vice President, 12 Senators and a Party List Representative on May 9 in the Philippines. “All the safeguards stated in the law will be implemented by the Comelec to safeguard the sanctity of votes. That’s why we are conducting this training to familiarise our DFA colleagues with the system and on what steps to do to ensure the sanctity of the votes. We are also looking into the electronic transmission of election results of Overseas Filipinos similar to the Philippines for quicker results,” pointed out Bautista.
With regard to the recent hacking incident of the Comelec website, he explained that the Comelec Website is a public website and there will be a different website for the election results with different security features. “We are coming up with mechanisms to mitigate or to lessen the probability of hacking to happen. But there are ways to ensure the sanctity of the process is preserved,” stressed Bautista. He informed that the Vote Counting Machines and the ballot receipts have been shipped out and ready for the OAV. “The ballot receipts are here now,” he stated.
Meanwhile, Ambassador Villa, Ambassador Santos and Ambassador Ver expressed the preparedness of their respective post for the upcoming OAV. “We have 49,000 registered voters in Kuwait and we hope that at least we will have a 30% voters turnout that’s why we are encouraging all the OFWs in Kuwait to vote and also tell their employers to allow their Filipino workers to go out and vote at the embassy,” stated Ambassador Villa.
In Bahrain, there are 18,400 registered voters and the embassy also aims at maximizing the voting percentage. “We are fully prepared and we are set to test the vote counting machines. We have marching orders for this maximum preparation and we all prepared for this,” assured Ambassador Ver as he thanked Comelec Bautista and his team for training all the embassy officials and staff.
On a final note, Bautista who will be heading back to the Philippines on Thursday urged all Overseas Filipino voters to exercise their right of suffrage. “They have to vote correctly, know the candidates, examine their platforms, track record and experience and think who is the worthy candidate to lead the country and on the part of the Comelec, rest assured of the accurate counting,” he stated as he thanked the Philippine posts in the Middle East and across the globe for helping the Comelec in all the preparations for the 2016 national elections.
By Michelle Fe Santiago Arab Times Staff