OFWs assured preparations for elections under way

DUBAI - A top official of the Philippines government's poll body assured overseas absentee voters that preparations are under way for the conduct of manual elections in foreign service establishments, despite the Philippines Supreme Court's decision to void the contract for computerised elections in May.

By Ramona Ruiz

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Published: Sun 18 Jan 2004, 12:22 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 2:26 AM

Allaying fears among Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in the UAE that the presidential elections may be deferred due to the shift to manual mode of elections, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Benjamin Abalos told Khaleej Times in a telephone interview: "I would like to assure the Filipino community in the UAE, particularly the registered absentee voters, that voting will continue as scheduled. I would also like to stress that the avoidance of the contract for automated elections will not, in any way, affect the scheduled implementation of overseas absentee voting." He asserted that all systems were in place for the shift from automated to manual mode of elections, and ballots for overseas voters would be ready by February 28.

Mr Abalos, meanwhile, confirmed that the three-day seminar by the Comelec and Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), that is slated today to continue till January 20 at the Beach Rotana Hotel in Abu Dhabi, would proceed as scheduled. Diplomats and Philippines Overseas Labour Office (Polo) officials in the Middle East and Africa, with the exception of Riyadh, will be present at the orientation seminar, which is in preparation for the upcoming elections.

Land-based overseas Filipinos with approved application to vote in absentia may cast their votes at any time within 30 days before the day of the election, starting on April 11, local time at the host country, up to 3 pm of May 10 Philippines time.

Commenting on concerns of electoral fraud, such as the possibility of dagdag-bawas (vote shaving) in the manual mode of elections, Mr Abalos said that such concerns would be addressed in a meeting with the political parties on Tuesday.

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