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OAV in several countries encounters minor setbacks

by Aileen Cerrudo   |   Posted on Monday, April 15th, 2019

The Overseas Absentee Voting (OAV) on Saturday (April 13) drew minor setbacks in several countries.

In Hong Kong

Two voting machines encountered technical problems during the first day of the OAV. The machines were rejecting the ballots.

According to Consul General Antonio Morales aside from the machines, they also encountered problems with incomplete shading, over-voting, and problems with some ballots’ barcode.

In Russia

The Facebook page of the Philippine Embassy in Russia was filled with complaints due to the insufficient number of ballots for the total voters.

Only 2,169 ballots arrived in Russia where the number of registered voters is at 3,529.

UNTV is still waiting for the response of the Philippine Embassy in Russia on the said issue.I

Meanwhile, in other countries like Taiwan, Malaysia, and East Timor, there was only a small voter turnout during the first day of the OAV.

Manila Economic Cultural Office (MECO) Deputy Resident Representative Atty. Carlo Aquino urges voters in Taiwan not to wait for the last day in order to vote.

“Magkakasabay-sabay po kayo. Hanggang Mayo 13 bukas po ang MECO para tanggapin ang inyong boto. Gamitin po natin ang ating karapatan na mamili kung sino ang mamumuno sa atin, (There might be an influx of voters. MECO is open for you to vote until May 13. Let us use our right to choose on who should lead us)” he said.—Aileen Cerrudo (with reports from Grace Casin)

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2019 records highest voter turnout for midterm elections – DFA-OVS

by Maris Federez   |   Posted on Wednesday, May 29th, 2019

Overseas absentee voting in Singapore for the 2019 midterm elections

The Department of Foreign Affairs-Overseas Voting Secretariat (DFA-OVS) announced that the 2019 Senatorial and Party List Elections has reached a new milestone for overseas voting.

In a press release issued on Tuesday (May 28), the agency noted that “the 2019 elections can be seen as the culminating activity belonging to a three-year cycle, beginning with the voter registration in 2016, six months after the presidential elections.”

The 2016-2019 cycle witnessed an increase of interest in the elections among Filipinos abroad, bringing the total number of registered overseas voters to 1.8 million by the end of the registration period.

This is a big rise from the previous record-breaking number of overseas voter registrants for the 2014-2016 cycle, which saw a total of 1.3 million overseas voters.

The top 10 high voter turnout per Embassy or Consulate General were as follows:

  1. Philippine Consulate General in Hong Kong (36,009)
  2. Philippine Consulate General in Dubai (28,487)
  3. Philippine Embassy in Singapore (25,110)
  4. Philippine Embassy in Abu Dhabi (15,806)
  5. Philippine Embassy in Kuwait (15,558)
  6. Philippine Embassy in Riyadh (14,616)
  7. Philippine Consulate General in Jeddah (11,484)
  8. Philippine Embassy in Tokyo (10,744)
  9. Philippine Consulate General in San Francisco (9,630)
  10. and Philippine Consulate General in New York (9,045)

The regional breakdown, on the other hand, had the Middle East and Africa taking the lead at 121,240 followed by the Asia Pacific at 113,139, the Americas at 54,834, and Europe at 45,715.

The agency admitted that the 2019 Midterm Elections overseas had also encountered several issues in the mailing of ballots to registered voters.

But despite the numerous difficulties on the conduct and management of elections overseas, the department said that all the personnel of the Philippine Foreign Service has successfully ushered a voter turnout of 334,928.

The statement affirms that “this makes the highest voter turnout for a midterm election and is second only to the 2016 Presidential Elections since the Overseas Voting Act was signed into law in 2003.”

“Similarly, this high turnout sustains the momentum coming from the 2016 presidential election cycle and will hopefully continue to set new milestones for the 2022 elections,” it added. /mbmf

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Duterte’s Japan trip not a ‘reward’ for Cabinet officials — Malacañang

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Wednesday, May 29th, 2019

President Rodrigo Duterte is welcomed by Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez upon his arrival at a hotel in Tokyo, Japan on May 28, 2019. (ROBINSON NIÑAL JR./PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO)

TOKYO, Japan — Malacañang denied that President Rodrigo Duterte’s trip to Japan is a reward to his Cabinet members following the administration’s victory in the 2019 midterm elections.

“The Palace does not share the position or remarks of Philippine Ambassador to Japan Jose C. Laurel V concerning Cabinet members joining the President in this trip to Japan,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement on Tuesday (May 28).

“It is worth mentioning that Cabinet members were prohibited by the President to campaign for the administration candidates during the last elections. It is therefore sans logic that they can be rewarded when they were disallowed from contributing to the reason or cause for the grant of reward,” he added.

In a press briefing ahead of President Duterte’s arrival to Japan, Ambassador Laurel told reporters that the trip was a form of reward as eight of administration’s senatorial candidates won in the election.

“Ito’y pabuya sa nakaraang eleksyon (It’s a reward for the elections),” Ambassador Laurel said in a press conference on Tuesday (May 28).

“But I think the President is so elated with the results of the midterm elections, that this is an affirmation of what his administration does in the last three years. It’s like a reward,” he added.

READ: Japan trip could be ‘reward’, not a ‘junket’ – PH envoy

In response, Panelo said that Ambassador Laurel “may have been either innocently speculating for lack of information or may have been misinformed of the nature of the trip” saying the presence of the Cabinet officials is necessary.

According to Panelo, some 25 business agreements will be signed during the working visit and the President’s delegation is expected to bring home about P300-B worth of investments from Japan.

He added that these investments will open at least 80,000 job opportunities for Filipinos.

Panelo noted that Japan is the Philippines’ second major trading partner and the fourth biggest source market for tourism.

He cited Japan’s contribution to the country’s infrastructure development and peace efforts in the Mindanao.

“The President therefore needs most of his team players, not only as a sign of respect or giving importance to our long-time ally, but we likewise see the need for a stronger cooperation between our governments,” Panelo said.

“This can be achieved by the constant dialogue by our Cabinet members with their counterparts in the Japanese government, who are, in various ways, involved in our country’s significant transactions with Japan,” he added.

President Duterte arrived in Japan on Wednesday evening to attend the 25th International Conference on the Future of Asia in Tokyo hosted by Japanese firm Nikkei.

He is set to meet with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for a bilateral meeting followed by greet and meet with the Filipino community in Japan.

The President is accompanied by a total of 16 Cabinet members and at least 200 other delegates.

Ambassador Laurel during the press interview clarified that the trip is not a junket though he did not clear if the organizer also shouldered the expenses of the Cabinet members and the local officials who joined the trip.  

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Winning senators of 2019 polls thank voters, bare legislation plans

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Wednesday, May 22nd, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The proclamation of winning senators in the 2019 midterm elections has finally pushed through on Wednesday (May 22), several days after the conduct of the May 13 polls.

The proclamation ceremony for senators was held at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) around 10 a.m.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec), sitting as the National Board of Canvassers (NBOC), originally scheduled the proclamation on Tuesday but had to defer it to wait for the arrival and canvassing of delayed election returns from Washington, D.C. in the United States, which represent around 200,000 voters.

READ: Comelec on proclamation of winning senators, party-list groups: ‘Not today’

The NBOC ended late Tuesday the canvassing of a total of 167 certificates of canvass from local and overseas clustered precincts.  

Promptly at 10 a.m., the ceremony started with the singing of the Philippine National Anthem and then followed by the announcement of the 12 winning senators.

Reelectionist Senator Cynthia Villar led the list of newly-elected senators after she garnered 25,283,727 votes.

In a speech during the proclamation rites, Villar thanked her family, friends and those who believed in and voted for her in the recently-concluded elections. She also vowed to continue implementing her livelihood and farming advocacies, called “HanepBuhay,” to help alleviate the lives of poor Filipinos.

In a separate statement, she also expressed gratitude to President Rodrigo Duterte for endorsing her candidacy during the campaign period.

Finishing at number two spot was reelectionist Senator Grace Poe who received 22,029,788 votes.

Poe, who ran as an independent candidate, also expressed her gratitude for getting another term at the Senate. She also vowed to support the administration’s policies but will not hesitate to speak up about issues when necessary.

Landing at third spot was former presidential special assistant Bong Go who got a total of 20,657,702 votes.

Returning to the Senate after finishing at fourth spot was Pia Cayetano with 19,789,019 votes.

Former Philippine National Police chief Ronald ‘Bato’ dela Rosa landed at fifth spot with 19,004,225 votes. In a brief interview with the media prior to his proclamation, dela Rosa expressed happiness for his victory but declined to provide any details when asked about his priority bills when he enters the upper chamber of Congress.

Reelectionist senator Sonny Angara finished the race at sixth place with 18,161,862 votes. He dedicated his win to his late father, former senator Edgardo Angara. He also vowed to push for measures seeking to provide additional pension for the elderly, wages for teachers and address the needs of persons with disabilities (PWD), among others.

Manuel “Lito” Lapid was at seventh spot with 16,965,464 votes, followed by Maria Imelda Josefa “Imee” Marcos who received a total of 15,882,628 votes.

In a brief media interview, Marcos expressed gratitude for those voted for her. She was also relieved that the proclamation finally pushed through on Wednesday, revealing that she has yet to get a good night sleep as they were closely monitoring the canvassing of votes.

Meanwhile, Francis Tolentino placed ninth in the senate race with 15,510,026 votes. In an interview on the sidelines of the proclamation event, he revealed that he has begun interviewing individuals who will be part of his legislative staff in the senate.

Tolentino, who is among the five Senate neophytes in the 18th Congress, said he would prioritize amendments to the local government code, and push for measures that would improve the country’s disaster management and water systems.

Reelectionist senator Aquilino ‘Koko’ Pimentel landed at tenth spot with 14,668,665 votes, followed by Ramong “Bong” Revilla Jr., who garnered 14,624,445 votes.

Revilla declined to grant media interview before the proclamation ceremony started earlier.

Completing the top 12 newly-elected senators was Maria Lourdes Nancy Binay with 14,504,936.

The proclamation of winning senators ended past 11 a.m.

The Comelec said the proclamation of the 61 party-list representatives will be held at the PICC later at 7 p.m. (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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