OVERSEAS Filipino voters may be disenfranchised due to lack of preparation and ample communication initiatives from embassies and consular offices across the world, groups warned as absentee voting is set to start on April 10.
Migrante International Chairperson Joanna Concepcion on Tuesday said Filipino migrant leaders from different countries have criticized authorities’ lack of effort to widely disseminate important election-related information and call for timely community meetings to reach overseas Filipino voters.
“The accreditation or even the acknowledgment of the request for poll watchers is also late, and they are not calling for community meetings with our Filipino communities overseas to orient them,” she said in Filipino during a press conference via Zoom.
She added that many have yet to receive their ballots for the postal voting method. Inquiries also receive no response.
United Filipinos in Hong Kong Vice-Chairperson Shiela Tebia, who is also under the 1Sambayan political group, said lack of meetings and consultations has made the community feel unsure and nervous about the voting exercise, especially for the 14,000 first-time voters.
She said their assessment of the voting plan in Hong Kong — where ballots will be cast in-person — also indicates that not all 93,000 registered voters will be able to exercise their right.
Likewise, Kabayan for Leni Kiko-Canada Chairperson Earl Francis Oriño Dacara said many registered voters among the Filipino community have yet to receive their ballots, and those that have are still unsure of the process.
In Saudi Arabia, Migrante’s area chair Marlon Gatdula said there are only three voting centers available, while the overall number of registered voters in the state is about 300,000.
There are almost 1.7 million registered overseas Filipino voters. Absentee voting — which will be mainly by post in most countries and in-person in a few areas — will be until May 9.
“Overseas Filipinos are calling on the Comelec (Commission on Elections)… and the Department of Foreign Affairs to urgently address the concerns of our overseas Filipino voters,” Migrante International said in a statement on Tuesday. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan