The Overseas Absentee Voting (OAV) kicked-off last April 9 in different parts of the world, wherein Filipinos working and based in abroad have already started casting their votes for the Philippine National Election on May 9, 2016.
In Ankara, Turkey, Mr. and Mrs. Wahid Guialab became the first and second overseas voters in the country. According to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), the couple voted at exactly 8:26 AM (Ankara time). Mr. and Mrs. Guialab have been living in Ankara for nine years.
Philippine Ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein Joselito A. Jimeno also casted his vote.
The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) sent the voting packets to the overseas voters and the official ballots must be returned to the Embassy by mail within the voting period.
The Philippine Embassy in Berne, Switzerland also advised Filipinos in the country who wish to cast their votes in person are encouraged to visit the Embassy from Monday-Friday, from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM.
Meanwhile in Egypt, Filipino community leader and long-time resident of Egypt, Ms. Nova Beatriz, casted the first ballot at the Philippine Embassy in Cairo.
According to DFA, the Philippine Embassy in Egypt will conduct modified postal voting wherein ballots will either be mailed directly to the voter by COMELEC or voters will personally claim and fill out their ballots in the Embassy.
Some 1,797 are registered voters in Egypt. However, several hundred more await their chance to vote in the Embassy’s jurisdiction countries of Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Ms. Nova Beatriz Madkour casts her ballot at the Philippine Embassy in Egypt. Sudan. The Embassy has scheduled mobile/field voting in all countries except Eritrea, where ballots will be mailed to the voter.
Also in the Middle East, the Philippine Embassy in Manama, Kingdom of Bahrain opened its doors early for voters.
Philippine Ambassador to Bahrain, Ambassador Alfonso A. Ver, the officers and staff of the Embassy serving in the various electoral boards, as well as accredited volunteers from the community, welcomed the early voters and asked them to join in the Embassy’s Flag Ceremony to commemorate Araw ng Kagitingan last April 9.
Ambassador Ver explained to the voters the process flow for voting. Voters were also advised to view the Certified List of Voters (CLOV) to verify if they are registered and were later on directed by volunteers to their appropriate precinct.
The Kingdom of Bahrain has 18,497 registered Filipino voters. Surprisingly, voter turnout was better than expected with over 400 voters have casted their ballots on the first day.
In Oman, Philippine Ambassador Narciso T. Castañeda, and Madame Cleofe Castañeda were the first to cast their votes in the Sultanate. Registered Filipino voters started arriving early at the Embassy.
According to DFA, most of the first-day voters said that they learned of the start of the voting period abroad through the Embassy’s Facebook page or website. Others learned by information passed on by compatriots in the Sultanate or from relatives in the Philippines.
A total of 188 OFWs voted on the first day of the 30-day overseas absentee voting period. At present, there are 11,389 registered Filipino absentee voters in Oman.
Going back to Europe, Consul General Marichu Mauro, the officers and staff of the Philippine Consulate General in Milan were also among the first to cast their votes for the 2016 National Elections.
COMELEC has designated a Mixed Mode of Voting for Milan, Italy, which means that voters from the Northern Italy can either cast their vote personally at the Consulate General or opt to receive their ballots by mail which they can either mail back or personally deliver their accomplished ballots to the Consulate General.
The voting process will be automated with the new Vote Counting Machines (VCM) at the Consulate.
Likewise, PCG Milan will be conducting field voting to reach as many registered voters in the outlying regions of Northern Italy. The first was held held in Turin, to cover the Piemonte Region of Italy last April 10. Field voting will also be conducted in the regions of Emilia Romagna and Veneto in the succeeding weeks to reach out to 32,075 registered overseas voters in Milan and Northern Italy.
In Rome, Philippine Ambassador to Italy Domingo P. Nolasco also led the casting of ballots on the first day of overseas voting.
As early as eight in the morning, members of the Filipino community in Rome arrived at the Embassy to cast their ballots. Watchers and members of the media were also present to witness the opening of Election Day at the Embassy.
Ambassador Nolasco expressed satisfaction on the enthusiasm and the active participation of members of the Filipino community. He reiterated his call on all registered voters in Rome to exercise their right to vote.
The Ambassador also explained that registered voters even without their voter’s ID may cast their vote. However, they must present any identification card such as passport, driver’s license and carta identità, among others.
Meanwhile, Ms. Maricel Quiman was the very first to cast her ballot at the Philippine Embassy in Warsaw, Poland.
In Canada, registered Filipino overseas have casted their ballots at the Philippine Consulate General in Vancouver.
Mr. Verne Vasquez, an employee of international money remittance chain I-Remit, was among the first to cast their ballots. He said he was excited to be able to get his voice heard in the choice of the country’s future leaders.
According to DFA, majority of the more than 33,000 registered voters in Western Canada will receive their ballots in the mail and are required to accomplish and mail them back to the Consulate General before the May 09 deadline for voting.
The Consulate General expects the turnout to be much larger this time than in previous overseas elections because of the vast increase in voter registration and the growing interest of the overseas Filipinos in their country’s governance and domestic affairs.
In Asia, the Special Board of Election Inspectors (SBEI) at the Philippine Embassy in Tokyo welcomed overseas voter Dante Sagbanan Negre as the first among the 19,230 overseas registered voters.
“I was happy and proud to be a Filipino when I fed my accomplished ballot into the voting counting machine. I chose to cast my vote personally because I want to test the machine myself. I am very satisfied of the system,” said Negre.
Negre is a founding member of the Filipino association called the United Filipinos for Peace and Advancement aimed at strengthening family ties, welfare, and relations. He also called on the Filipinos to remain united and use their ballots to express their feelings and thoughts for the country.
Just like in other country, this year, overseas voters in Tokyo were offered mixed voting (postal and personal voting) under the automated election system (AES).
Last but not the least, Teacher Adjani Marie Ann Barredo Navalta came with three of her church mates on April 09, to vote for their choice of President, Vice President, Senators, and Partylist Representative at the Philippine Embassy in Cambodia.
The Philippine Embassy in Cambodia reported that thirty-six (36) registered overseas voters cast their votes on the first day of overseas voting in Cambodia.