15 May 2019
Philippine midterm elections have closed and the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) announced the voting to have been “generally successful, ” contrary to the Overseas Absentee Voting in Europe, which ended with wide criticisms and low turnouts.
In a press statement dated April 3, 2019, Migrante Europe strongly protested the postal voting adopted by embassies and consulates, as it may result to disenfranchisement and non-participation of thousands of registered voters in Europe.
According to Garry Martinez, a migrant advocate in the United Kingdom, only 8, 175 or 25.19% were able to vote in the elections out of 32,443 registered overseas absentee voters. Delayed delivery of ballots by posts was documented and many OFWs who went to embassies to claim their voter’s kit were disappointed because their ballots were already sent by post.
In Italy, only 13,006 were able to vote out of 62,920 registered voters. Rhodney Pasion, Electoral Campaign Coordinator of Migrante Europe documented cases of newly-registered OAVs who were not included in the master list of voters in the Philippine Embassy and Consulate. The voters who filed and requested to change addresses and residences were not updated in the COMELEC master lists.
Limited space of polling places which are not conducive for OAV was also documented. Satellite precincts were not available that would have helped to encourage more voters.
In The Netherlands, 603 ballots cast, out of 2,360 registered absentee voters, while in France, 1,609 voted, from 4932 registered electors.
In Belgium, out of 2,210 registered voters, 1,111 or 50% cast their votes. The 650 voters cast their votes in Austria, out of 1,951 registered voters.
Did the COMELEC and the Duterte government properly prepared for the OAV? Why should migrants be made to pay for the postal stamps for their returned ballots? Lack of budget? Were they sincere to include OFWs in the midterm elections?
Noticeable also was the low percentage of registered absentee voters in countries with a bigger concentration of OFWs and with more than 700,000 Filipinos in Europe considered as bonafide voters. Migrante chapters criticized the COMELEC and embassies for failing to disseminate systematically the necessary information prior to the Registration of Overseas Absentee Voting.
On Election results
As the Midterm Elections closed, and the “winners” officially declared in the coming days, Migrante chapters in Europe have expressed grave concern that Duterte’s allies are most likely to “win” seats in the Senate and Congress. Several of them have records or have been accused and convicted of plunder and corruption, and have condoned Duterte’s crimes against the people.
Migrante Europe and its chapters and members in the region will continue its advocacy to defend and promote migrants rights, to be at the forefront in the fight for truth and justice, and remain steadfast and determined to resist a brutal, corrupt, anti-peace and plunderous administration.###
Father Herbert Fadriquela Jr.
Chairperson, Migrante Europe
Chaplain for the Filipino Community
Diocese of Leicester, Church of England