OFWs to PHL officials abroad: Conduct an honest, orderly, and fraud-free OAV

A FILIPINO migrants’ rights group in the Middle East today urges the officials of various Philippine diplomatic posts abroad to be nonpartisan and apolitical in the conduct of the overseas absentee voting (OAV), which begins normally one month ahead on the day of the election on May 2013.

Migrante-Middle East (M-ME) regional coordinator John Leonard Monterona called on PH embassies and consulates’ officers-in-charge in the conduct of the AOV to be nonpartisan and remains apolitical ‘so that an honest, orderly, peaceful, and fraud-free OAV will materialize.’

Monterona issued the call amid the recent proposal made by Commission on Election (COMELEC) commissioner Lucenito Tagle, chairman of the committee on the overseas, to subject additional places with relatively huge numbers of overseas absentee voters to automated elections system (AES).

COMELEC commissioner Tagle recommended to the COMELEC En banc the inclusion of 5 places where automated elections will be conducted -in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Kuwait, Jeddah, and Riyadh -in addition to Singapore and Hong Kong, where automated elections took place in 2010.

Per COMELEC records, registered AOVs in the places mentioned above are as follows: Abu Dhabi with 21,418, Jeddah with 42,454 voters, Kuwait with 28,458 voters, Dubai with 30,513 voters, and Riyadh with 62,509 voters.

“There were questions raise which until now have not been properly explained on the conduct of May 2010 automated elections. Now, the COMELEC wanted to include OAV in places where there are relatively big numbers of registrants,” Monterona averred.

Monterona added the idea of an automated election is not bad, but the manner how it is being conducted is not hocus-pocus-free and the result is subject to manipulation to favor a candidate or a party.

Monterona, however, clarified that his group will welcome a detailed proposal from the COMELEC for the inclusion of the said 5 places. “The OFWs, through their organizations and leaders, should be allowed to scrutinize the COMELEC proposed implementing rules and regulation in the conduct of automated elections abroad in line with our aim to have a fraud-free, honest, and orderly OAV,” he suggested.

Monterona added that his group will strongly suggest to the COMELEC, noting the special character of overseas absentee voting with the limitations imposed by the host governments, that there must be close coordination and participation of Filipino community leaders at every posts and witness the conduct of the OAV-AES to counting of votes to transmittal of the result. ‘Duly accredited OFWs party-list groups must have their representatives in the election board of canvassers.’

Meanwhile, the OFW group raises serious concern on the political and electoral machinations of the Aquino administration to favor its candidate by giving access and advantage of govt. resources to advance its candidates’ electoral bid while slapping suspension to local chief executives who were in the opposition such is the case of the incumbent Cebu governor.

“We are referring to the release of millions of pork barrel to Akbayan Rep. Kaka Bag-ao, though she was appointed as caretaker by Speaker Belmonte, both belongs to the ruling party, of the district where Rep. Ecleo was elected. There is nothing incidental to this but certainly an act of political opportunism as Rep. Bag-ao is running in the district of former Rep. Ecleo. Are we going to see more of this as the elections draw near?” Monterona concluded.

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