MANILA, Philippines – More than 200,000 overseas Filipinos – a record-breaking number – have cast their ballots so far to elect the Philippines’ next leaders, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said.
Comelec Commissioner Arthur Lim, the poll commissioner in charge of overseas absentee voting (OAV), said 200,262 overseas Filipinos have voted as of Thursday morning, April 28.
This represents a voter turnout of 14.55% after only 19 days of the month-long overseas absentee voting (OAV).
This surpasses the voter turnout in roughly the same period in 2010 and 2013.
In the first 18 days of OAV in 2013, when Filipinos elected senators and party-list representatives, the overseas voter turnout was 7.12%.
In 2010, when Filipinos elected President Benigno Aquino III and other national leaders, the overseas voter turnout in the first 18 days of OAV was 13.4%.
Described as game-changers in Philippine politics, overseas Filipinos this year have 30 days to vote, from April 9 to May 9.
At the end of the month-long OAV in 2013, the voter turnout was 16.71%.
In 2010, the overall voter turnout for OAV was 29.96%.
Lim said the Comelec is targeting a 40-50% overseas voter turnout this year.
'We get the government we deserve'
In any case, in terms of raw figures, it's notable that the voter turnout for the first 19 days of OAV this year – which is 200,262 – has already surpassed the month-long turnout for 2010 and 2013.
Government data show that 153,323 overseas Filipinos voted in 2010. In 2013, the overall voter turnout was 118,823.
Reacting to the record-breaking figure in the first 18 days of OAV, Lim said on Wednesday, April 27, "It is heartening, to say the least, because voter participation is crucial in political maturity and political awareness."
He then urged other OFWs to vote this year.
"We get the government that we deserve," said Lim, a former head of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, who once served as a private prosecutor in the impeachment trial of dismissed chief justice Renato Corona in 2012.
Lim said, "Kung hindi tayo bumoboto, hindi tayo interesado sa kung sino ang mahalal diyan, huwag natin sisihin ang iba kundi sarili rin natin kung ang gobyernong makuha natin ay hindi kanais-nais."
(As they sometimes say, we get the government that we deserve. If we don’t vote, if we’re not interested in whoever is elected, let’s not blame anyone else but ourselves if we get a bad government.) – Rappler.com
Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior reporter leading Rappler’s coverage of religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.