Overseas Voters Should Get Out And Vote

CHICAGO (FAXX/jGLi) – When Team PNoy senatorial candidate Cynthia Villar misspoke that the nursing professionals are merely fit to become “room nurses” or caretakers, it should have been an incentive for Overseas Absentee Voters (OAV’s) to show up in full force to teach her a lesson to think first before she speaks out.

But the procrastination of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to resolve the re-enfranchisement of 238,557 OAV’s, who failed to vote in 2007 and 2010, caused some OAV’s to mark time, instead of marching forward.

This should be a good news for the wife of outgoing Sen. Manny Villar whose No. 6 position inside the Magic 12 appears entrenched if the latest Pulse Asia survey is to take hold.

It was only on March 5, 2013 when the Comelec decided in an en banc session to approve Resolution No. 9653, allowing all the 238,557 OAV’s, who failed to vote in 2007 ad 2010, to let them vote in the May 13, 2013 elections by merely showing up at the Post – Embassy or consulate – to register and to sign the blank “OVF No. 2A provided for that purpose” from March 5 until the May 13 election day.

By publishing the resolution in two newspapers of general circulation in the Philippines, instead of selected mainstream or ethnic newspapers owned by Filipinos overseas, it was wasteful financial investment because such paid legal notices are not accessible to OAV’s.

If only all the OAV’s will come forward by mailing their ballots starting this coming April 13, 2013 that should reach the Embassy or consulate in their area on or before May 13 or by showing up in person to vote on the May 13 election day, the close to one million votes of OAV’s could certainly make Villar uncomfortable in her No. 6 ranking.

Despite her relative Ray O. Villar’s assurance to me that “Cynthia went on television to apologize for her mistake in making statement about the quality of some nursing program” and believes “she had been forgiven by the Nursing Profession as evidence by her recent poll standing,” Mrs. Villar has still to be wary with OAV’s, who are not aware of her apology.

Ray O. Villar is a friend and a Chicago area resident, who divides his time in living in Sapi-an, Capiz in the Philippines for a better part of the year.

With the very short notice, though, of the Comelec resolution allowing the 238,557 OAV’s to vote on May 13, I doubt if 50 percent of them would turn up to vote. The Comelec is only expecting a maximum of 20 percent or 47,711 to exercise their right to vote.

ONLY 12 SENATORS & 1 PARTY-LIST REPRESENTATIVE TO BE VOTED ON

And even if this 20 percent would show up, a lot of these votes could still be invalidated. For instance, if a voter by mail will not affix his right thumb mark on the ballot coupon on the lower portion of the ballot, his vote will not counted. And so with the failure in writing the name of the voter and signing above it in the ballot envelope. And if the ballot arrives after May 13 at 7 p.m. Philippine time (6 a.m. May 12, 2013 Central Time). Or if a voter votes for more than 12 senators and more than one Party-List representatives, the ballot would also be considered spoiled. Or if the handwriting is ineligible, it could be considered stray ballot, too.

I suggest the Comelec employ officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs to review the intricacies of writing addresses outside the envelope before they are dropped in the mail. Or let a DFA staff, who had been assigned in countries whose writings are rendered in languages other than English. My ballot was returned to sender because my address has my street address printed along with my city address in one line, causing a delay of the delivery.

If the turnout of OAV’s comes in bunches, it may lead former Congresswoman Villar to slip in her ranking and let other candidates cringe like JV Ejercito, who is ranked ninth by the latest Pulse Asia survey because of some derogatory reports that he did not declare his offshore overseas bank account in his Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth.

If OAV’s can only vote for local government candidates, it is possible that more OAV’S will warm up to get out to vote.

Perhaps, in the 2016 presidential elections, OAV’s should be given a chance to vote for their respective governors, congressmen, mayors, etc.

One local election that is drawing interest among OAV’s is the mayoral elections in Manila.

A friend of mine, Fernando “Ronnie” M. Estrada of San Jose, California, who visited our friend, former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada, in Metro Manila last month told me the former president has an edge over re-electionist Mayor Alfredo Lim.

Among the issues against Lim is Lim’s order on the Manila police to keep distance from Erap. This fatwa could backfire against Mayor Lim because it is like forcing a horse to go the river but nobody can force the horse to drink the water. In this case, the police may be forced to follow orders but they cannot be forced to vote for the Lim because of the secret voting in a democracy. The police can even campaign privately, which is beyond the control of the mayor.

“AYAW NI ERAP LALONG MAGHIRAP ANG MAYNILA”

Ronnie Estrada told me the former president wants to carry a dignified campaign by focusing on the issues. Among his major issues are his fight for urban renewal program and conduct of transparency by sticking to public bidding instead of shady negotiated transactions. “Ayaw ni Erap Lalong Maghirap ang Maynila,” (Erap does not want to let Manila further down), my friend said.

As to the latest bingo controversy that caused the arrest of Erap’s vice mayoral running mate Isko Moreno, if Erap asks me about it, I will say if bingo is illegal, then, Vice Mayor Moreno should accept his mistake and pay the fine. In so doing, he can turn the table on Mayor Lim to accept his own mistake when the mayor hosted his own bingo last Feb. 14 despite the mayor’s own Jan. 26 memorandum declaring bingo as gambling.

At the same time, Vice Mayor Moreno can stick by his accusations that he and others were manhandled by the police when they were violently arrested.

Only by accepting ones mistake and not repeating and apologizing for it can politicians really win the votes and the public trust. (lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net)

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