Right to vote shunned by abroad

By Maila Ager and Maricel V. Cruz, Reporters
THE people’s ignorance of the Dual Citizenship Law and the govern­ment’s failure to attend to political concerns of overseas Filipinos are the main reasons for the disappointing low turnout of registrants for absentee voting, a Palace official said on Tuesday.

Heherson Alvarez, presidential adviser on overseas Filipino workers, was not surprised when informed about the result of the registration. He expected it, given the limited time to launch the information campaign for all Filipino communities abroad.

Alvarez said that in most parts of America, many Filipinos did not register for fear of losing their US citizenship.

He cited a case in Los Angeles where at least three Filipino communities were not informed about the Absentee Voting Law and the Dual Citizenship Law.

“The Filipinos in America, especially the old-timers, are afraid that they would risk their US citizenship when they obtain another in the Philippines. Maybe the law was handled in some level of sophistication that it was not explained well to them,” Alvarez said in a telephone interview from Singapore.

He believes that Filipinos in Hawaii and Saudi Arabia have a different reason for not registering as absentee voters.

In Hawaii, Alvarez noted that the Filipinos were more concerned about their conditions and economic demands. Filipino workers in Saudi Arabia are suffering from maltreatment and problems with recruitment firms.

Despite the low turnout of registrants, he said the almost 300,000 Filipinos who registered are still an “enchanting figure,” considering that the Absentee Voting Law was being carried out for the first time.

On Tuesday the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on the Automation of Elections suggested that automated elections should only be in select priority areas such as the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and Metro Manila during the 2004 election.

The chair of the House committee, Rep. Jesli Lapus of Tarlac, explained that the 1,991 counting machines should be concentrated only in critical and urban areas so that polling centers could be provided with automated counting machines.


Bron : Manila Times Online

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