The mid-term elections have just concluded, but questions about its integrity amid the outpouring of protests and complaints about the massive and systematic cheating using state machineries, vilification and harassment of militant and progressive candidates up until the day of the elections, which clearly is a violation of Comelec rules on electioneering, and the massive disenfranchisement of voters, especially OFWs (overseas Filipinos) are reverberating in almost all corners of the globe.
There is tremendous interest in the May 13 mid-term national elections. Everyone has watched intently on the outcome of the votes as this could be the last battleground that the Duterte government is hellbent to take control of in order to institutionalize its dictatorship and effect absolute dominance on the lives of every freedom-loving Filipinos.
In Japan, Overseas Absentee Voting (OAV) was marred by late deliveries of ballots, massive return of mailed ballots, corrupted SD cards and technical glitches in the operation of VCMs (vote counting machines) among others.
Out of the estimated 80,00 total registered voters in Japan, voter turn-out is only 18,458 or just 23% of the total registered voters. This means that more than 47,000 voters or 59% of the total number of voters failed to vote as 13,363, or 16.5 % of the voters did not receive their ballot, and therefore, disenfranchised.
OAV in Japan is also plagued by piecemeal and slow, confusing information. It was only on March 27 that the PH embassy in Tokyo announced “postal voting” as the mode of elections in Japan. When asked about why only postal voting when the past elections used the combination of postal and personal voting, PH embassy officials said that it was Comelec’s decision. As it turned out, Comelec revealed that the mode of elections overseas was left to the discretion of the foreign service post.
Even efforts to resolve issues like returned ballots, Comelec and the PH embassy were too slow and undecisive. They only relied on the embassy website and never took proactive measures to reach out to the voters. As many Filipinos in Japan do not navigate the embassy website to get the information they need, the PH embassy should have taken steps to immediately deploy mobile or satellite voting centers to give voters a real chance to exercise their right to vote. As a result, a whooping 16.5% percent of voters in Japan were disenfranchised for not receiving their ballots and therefore failing to exercise their right to suffrage.
And yet Comelec has the gall to declare the just concluded elections a success?
For the majority of Filipinos in Japan, this year’s election is a farce. It is nothing but a charade to fill the Senate with elected candidates who are minions of the current administration as against truly qualified and competent candidates who have been vilified and labelled as enemies of the state throughout and most especially in the last days heading to the May 13 polls.
For Filipinos everywhere, there’s much to be worried and frightened about when the 18th Congress opens. President Duterte already controls the Lower House and the Supreme Court. Now, it has taken control of the Senate. What is next for the Filipino people and the millions of OFWs?
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