This story was taken from Bulatlat, the Philippines's alternative weekly newsmagazine (www.bulatlat.com, www.bulatlat.net, www.bulatlat.org).
Vol. VII, No. 11, April 22-28, 2007


 

ELECTION WATCH
OFWs Dump Team Unity in Mock Polls, Decry Irregularities in OAV Conduct

The results of the recent global mock elections that dumped administration senatoriables speak of the sentiments of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and their families: vote against Team Unity. More than being votes for the opposition, “these are votes against Arroyo and her lackeys,” said Connie Bragas-Regalado, Migrante International chairperson.

BY AUBREY SC MAKILAN
Bulatlat

The results of the recent global mock elections that dumped administration senatoriables speak of the sentiments of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and their families: vote against Team Unity.

Dubbed as “Pulso ng OFWs, Pulso ng Pamilya:  2007 Mock Senatorial Elections,” the internationally- coordinated senatorial mock election was organized by Migrante International from April 8 to 15 in Canada, Japan, Australia, The Netherlands, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Korea, and the Philippines. There were 2,145 ballots cast in these eight countries.

In the Philippines, Migrante chapters in Manila and Quezon City held mock elections in their communities. A “mobile polling station” was also roaming around the Department of Foreign Affairs, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), and T.M. Kalaw in Manila where seafarer applicants hang around.

Votes vs Arroyo

From those votes, the Magic 12 was composed of eight candidates from the Genuine Opposition (GO), two independents and only two from the administration’s Team Unity. 

Top 12

Party

Votes

1.  Loren Legarda

GO

1,778

2.  Manuel Villar

GO

1,392

3.  Alan Peter Cayetano

GO

1,277

4.  Francis Escudero

GO

1,251

5.  Francisco Pangilinan

IND

1,186

6.  Benigno Aquino III

GO

   981

7.  Ralph Recto

TU

  956

8.  Sonia Roco

GO

  908

9.  Gregorio Honasan

IND

  775

10. Nikki Coseteng

GO

  745

11. John Osmeña

GO

  722

12. Edgardo Angara

TU

  670

More than being votes for the opposition, “these are votes against Arroyo and her lackeys,” said Connie Bragas-Regalado, Migrante International chairperson.

“Our OFW mock election results reflect the general sentiment of the people against this regime’s anti-migrant and anti-people policies,” she said. 

Moreover, she said the results are also a challenge for senatorial candidates to “genuinely protect the rights and welfare of OFWs.”  

The migrant leader said that “Arroyo’s policy of intensifying the export of people in exchange for remittances is resulting in a whole range of social costs and abuses against OFWs and their families – thus, most candidates allied with her were rejected soundly.” 

Among the urgent issues Bragas-Regalado cited were the new Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) Guidelines for Household Service Workers, the excessive fees government charges migrant workers, alleged corruption at the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) and the rise of human rights violations against OFWs, especially women migrants. 

Irregularities in the OAV

Bragas-Regalado also called on OFWs to remain vigilant to ensure their votes are counted. She also warned the Arroyo administration against moves to use the Overseas Absentee Voting (OAV) polls to cheat in the elections, especially since the OFW mock polls and surveys show opposition candidates dominating the Magic 12.

Vigilance was called for especially since alleged irregularities in the OAV polls have already been monitored in Hong Kong, said Gabriela Women's Party (GWP) secretary-general Cristina Palabay. 

Palabay said they have received reports that around 10 GWP pollwatchers wearing GWP identification tags were prevented from entering the polling precinct in Hong Kong. She added that two OFW voters were allegedly told they could not bring their sample ballots inside the polling station. 

In Rome, Italy, Filipino group Umangat (Uplift) reported that the OAV failed to start on April 14, Saturday, the start of the 30-day OAV period, because ballots failed to arrive for OFW voters.

Migrante-Europe meanwhile reported that in Geneva, Switzerland, ballots have not arrived as of April 18, four days since the supposed start of the OAV.

Migrante said there are about 820 overseas absentee voters in Switzerland and 2,300 in Italy.

Damaged OAV integrity 

Aside from the disenfranchisement, GWP nominee and OFW leader Flora Belinan said that these delays “already deprive our OFWs of their right to vote.”

"For the Arroyo administration, OFWs have the right to suffer but not of suffrage,” she said. “No wonder, her endorsement as far as OFWs are concerned is a kiss of political death."

According to Belinan, the number of absentee voters is already low allegedly because of the “government's poor voters’ information and education drive.” And now, she said that the “government is set to deprive these OFW voters of their right to vote due to these unexplained delays."

The low voters’ turn out, the delays, and the political harassment of GWP, particular in Hong Kong, Belinan said, blight the integrity of the OAV.

With these, Belinan urged OFWs and their families to guard their votes from casting to counting, saying that "the tentacles of the administation's machinery for cheating certainly extend to voting centers abroad.” Bulatlat

 

© 2007 Bulatlat  Alipato Publications

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