Month-long voting for overseas Filipinos begins; HK OFW, Palau teacher among earliest voters

April 10, 2010 10:31 pm 

By Gloria Jane Baylon

MANILA, April 10 — More than half a million registered overseas Filipino voters are expected to cast their votes beginning today for their candidates in national posts at 93 polling centers abroad, mostly the Philippine embassy or consulate nearest their communities, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) reported.

Overseas absentee voting (OAV) continues until May 10, when domestic polls open for only one day for Philippine-based voters. The longer OAV timeline allows for fault-free transport and delivery of votes to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in Intramuros, Manila.

Having the largest population of OAV voters, the voting process in Singapore and Hong Kong will employ automated machines. The 91 other overseas poll centers in Asia/Pacific, Middle East/Africa, and the Americas and Caribbean conduct theirs via the two other manual modes –postal voting and direct personal voting.

Hong Kong-based domestic helper Rowena dela Cruz was the first to cast her vote in the Chinese special administrative region, appearing at the Bayanihan Kennedy Town Center in downtown Hong Kong when it opened at 8 a.m., according to DFA spokesperson J. Eduardo Malaya.

Dela Cruz had camped out at the polling place since Friday afternoon.

Noel Reyes, a 36-year-old teacher at the Palau High School and wearing a white T-shirt emblazoned with “Ako ang Simula,” was the first voter in that small Pacific island, according to a report to the DFA by Consul Vicente Bandillo of the Philippine embassy in Koror.

Voting commenced smoothly in the various electoral precincts and most opened at no later than 8 a.m., Malaya said.

There are exactly 589,830 registered voters under the OAV system.

Turnout during the month-long voting period “is expected to be high since this year’s election includes the next president,” said Malaya.

OAV voters can vote only for the president, vice-president, eight senators and one party-list representative. They cannot vote for candidates for local posts such as district representative, provincial governor and city or municipal mayor. (PNA)

scs/GJB

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