MANILA, Philippines – Filipino voters under the jurisdiction of at least six embassies and consulates will have to wait past the first day of overseas voting, Sunday, April 10, before they can exercise their right to vote in the 2022 elections due to logistical challenges, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) announced on Sunday.
Voters under the jurisdiction of the following posts will start voting at a later date “due to logistical difficulties encountered in the shipment of election materials”:
- Philippine embassy in Wellington, New Zealand
- Philippine embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan
- Philippine embassy in Dili, Timor Leste
- Philippine consulate in Milan, Italy
- Philippine consulate in New York, USA
The Comelec also postponed voting in Shanghai, China, due to a COVID-19 surge.
The overseas voting period for the Philippine elections will run from April 10 to May 9, either through personal or postal modes of voting.
The Philippine consulate in New York announced on Saturday, April 9 (Manila time), that it had received the first of several boxes of election paraphernalia, which included vote-counting machines (VCMs). It then announced on Sunday that more boxes arrived in neighboring New Jersey.
The consulate in New York rescheduled the final testing and sealing of VCMs on Wednesday, April 13, at 9 am Eastern Time.
Boxes of election materials began arriving in New Zealand on Monday, April 11.
“We are hoping the other boxes come soonest, as there have been delays in the mailing system. The embassy will be hard at work mailing out the ballots over the coming days,” said Philippine Ambassador to New Zealand Gary Domingo in a Facebook post.
Dismay over delays
Members of the Filipino community in New York earlier expressed outrage over the delays in the conduct of overseas voting there. In an open letter, a group of at least 64 overseas voters told Consul General Elmer Cato, Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez, and the Comelec’s Office for Overseas Voting that they considered these delays “unacceptable.”
Meanwhile, Rhodney Pasion, secretary general of Migrante Europe, said that overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Italy were also dismayed at the delayed delivery of ballots.
“Ngayong araw inaasahan ng mga OFW dito sa Bologna, Italy na makukuha nila ang kanilang balota dahil karamihan sa mga OFW dito sa Northern Italy ay nakapagpadala na ng sulat para personal na kunin ang balota ngayong araw,” said Pasion on Sunday.
(OFWs here in Bologna, Italy, were expecting to receive their ballots today [April 10] as many had sent letters signifying their intent to personally retrieve their ballots [at the embassy].)
The Philippine embassy in Rome, however, was able to begin voting on time on Sunday. Voters were able to pick up their election packets at the embassy.
“Hindi katanggap-tanggap ang mabagal na galaw ng Comelec upang maipaabot ang balota sa mga OFW sa unang araw ng botohan (It is unacceptable that the Comelec is moving slowly to bring the ballots to OFWs on the first day of voting),” he added.
Here, Filipino voters registered in a certain area may vote in a different post if they happen to be there, as long as they file a manifest to intent to vote. For example, if a Filipino registered in Singapore happens to be in Hong Kong during the month-long voting period, they may vote in Hong Kong if they signify intent.
There are more than 1.6 million overseas Filipinos set to vote in the 2022 elections. – Rappler.com