Migrante: Trainings Alone Will Not Prevent Failure of Overseas Absentee Voting

26 February 2010

Amidst the series of trainings on the members of the foreign service, the global alliance of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) Migrante International, still sees “inevitable” failure in the conduct of the the Overseas Absentee Voting.

“Apart from the trainings being unforgivingly late, the OAV is still bound to fail if the Comelec and the RP posts abroad do not clarify the particularities on how are they going to ensure that OFWs will be able to vote and how the system will be free from fraud. Until now the Comelec has not released clear-cut guidelines to address these problems, until now there are no schedules of voters education for OFWs,” said Garry Martinez, chairperson of Migrante.

Migrante believes that the allotted PCOS machines for automated elections in Hong Kong and Singapore is not enough. “This number runs on ideal assumptions: no machine failure and very well-informed voters. But given the slack preparations and the machine glitches in the dry-runs, chaos leading to disenfranchisement is sure to happen. Did they even consider the reality that domestic helpers, which comprises the majority of the OFWs, only has Sunday as day-off,” Martinez said.

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Thirty PCOS machines are only allotted for the automated elections. A total of 127,206 are slated to vote in Hong Kong and Singapore. Migrante pushed for more machines and more polling areas. “It would even be better if the PCOS machines can be stationed in major concentrations of OFWs on Sundays,” Martinez said.

“Postal voting on the other hand also posts a lot of problems. In our experience last elections in Japan, many ballots came after the period of elections. To note, Japan already has a very efficient postal system. And now they are doing it in 46 more countries including those with literally snail-paced mail?” asked Martinez.

Matinez also expressed that what is more intriguing is the lack of systems to protect the ballots from tampering. He explained that given the elections will run for a month, the fraud operatives will have a month-long chance, be it manual, postal or automated elections. Until now, no procedures are in place to address this concern.

“With the way things are going, we really suspect that this isn’t just a case of late preparations. This could be intended to really sabotage the votes of the migrant Filipinos. Disenfranchising OFWs of their right to vote benefits none except the present administration. OFWs has always been critical of the present regime because of its intensified labor export program,” concluded Martinez.

Garry Martinez, Chairperson, Migrante International
Ailyn Abdula, Media Officer, Migrante International

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