CHICAGO (JGL) – If overseas Filipinos would vote as one during national elections in the Philippines, they would be a big voting block to contend with.
New Philippine Consul General Generoso D.G. Calonge (pronounced Ka-Lon-He) told some Filipino community leaders last Aug. 20 in the Philippine Consulate General’s office in Chicago, Illinois to register at the Philippine Consulate so they can vote in the 2016 presidential elections that will also include the elections of senators. Filipino overseas voters also elect sectoral representatives.
“Even if only one-third will register, Filipinos overseas can still influence the outcome of national politics. Unlike certain minorities, Filipinos are divided. But if you as overseas voters vote as one like one block, your votes can swing the results in the presidential, vice presidential and senatorial elections.” Calonge, a Philippine lawyer, also said.
“Five million votes can certainly affect the result of the last three slots in the Philippine senatorial elections.”
Filipinos and those who have naturalized to foreign citizens but had re-acquired their Filipino citizenships are eligible to vote in Philippine elections.
NOTICE OF REGISTRATION TO ALL FILIPINO CITIZEN
Starting last May 6, 2014 until October 31, 2015, Mondays to Fridays, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (except during regular and declared holidays in the Philippines and the United States), all qualified Filipino Overseas Voter’s applicants from the Midwest may file applications for registration, certification and transfer of registration records with the Philippine Consulate General. They can vote in the 2016 national elections once they are registered.
Filipino immigrants and permanent residents shall no longer be required to execute an affidavit of intent to return and resume actual physical permanent residence in the Philippines. They only have to present their copy of their valid passport and for those who re-acquired/retained their Filipino citizenship, a copy of their Order of Approval.
The Philippine Consulate General in Chicago has jurisdiction over 16 states, namely, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
Calonge, 58, a native of Sto. Tomas, La Union in the Philippines, also explained that if there is a delay in the processing of Philippine passports it is due to the meticulous effort by the Philippine government to vet the passport application due to “security, money laundering and anti-terrorism” concerns. The Department of Foreign Affairs wants to make sure the passport is tamper-proof by embedding picture and personal data in the passport that is machine-readable called electronic passport that is aligned with the world standard. It now takes a minimum of 45 days to process a Philippine passport.
MONTHLY COMMUNITY OUTREACH
He plans to hold a monthly outreach with the community every third Wednesday of the month for a free-wheeling discussion with leaders of the community to come up with concerns and consensus that can be relayed to national government officials in Manila and to their host government through the Philippine Embassy.
Among such concerns are the maintenance of the peace and order in the Philippines that will ensure the safety of homecoming Filipinos, visitors and investors and the solution to the unbearable traffic jams that takes a minimum of three hours to cross from one end of Metro Manila to another. The traffic jams were made more complicated by the recent ban of movement of trucks in Manila.
A career diplomat, Calonge has been in the Foreign Service for three decades. He served in Philippine diplomatic and consular missions in Washington, D.C., Moscow, Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Saipan in various capacities. He was also assigned in the home office of the Department of Foreign Affairs’ office of the Undersecretary for Policy, Office of the Undersecretary for International Economic Relations, Office of the Undersecretary for Special Concerns, Office of Legal Affairs, Office of Intelligence and Security Services, Office of the Middle East and African Affairs and Office of Asian and Pacific Affairs.
He earned his bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of the Philippines in Manila in 1976, completed his degree in Law UP in Diliman in 1985 and finished his Masters of Laws from Harvard Law School in 1988. He also attended the Officer Cadet School at Portsea of the Australian Army as a Military Science scholar from 1978-79 under the Philippines-Australia Defense Cooperation Program.
Consul General Calonge is married to Gloria Salazar Calonge who is also a lawyer. They have three children, Golda, Nikki and Joshua Benedict.