OFWs in Italy decry “shortened” OAV period

Overseas absentee voters in Italy are complaining that the Commission of Elections (Comelec) has effectively shortened their voting period due to flaws and inefficiencies of the agency.

According to Connie Bragas-Regalado, Chairperson and 1st Nominee of Migrante Partylist, they were furnished with a copy of a memorandum from the Philippine Embassy in Rome stating that it will only conduct manual voting on April 20 to April 26. After which, voting will be done via postal mail. (Attached is a copy of the memorandum)

“The OFWs are questioning why the Comelec limited the number of days for manual voting to six working days, especially since the PH Embassy in Rome was late in opening the OAV process to begin with,” said Connie Bragas-Regalado.

The OAV started worldwide on April 13 but implementation was late in Italy because of the late arrival of ballots. This prompted Filipino communities in Italy led by Migrante to submit a letter of concern to the PH Embassy in Rome. The embassy’s memorandum was in reply to said letter.

“OFWs in Italy have reason to fear massive disenfranchisement of registered voters due to the shortened voting periods. Based from experience, postal voting is not very reliable because of reports that ballots do not reach their destination via postal mail. Combined with the late implementation of the OAV in Italy, OFWs are apprehensive that their votes may not be counted in time for the May 13 deadline,” Bragas-Regalado said.

The migrant leader said that they are set to hold an audience with the Comelec to bring to the agency’s attention various complaints and deficiencies in the OAV process in different countries.

So far, OFWs from Hong Kong, Middle East, UAE, Canada, US and Rome have all reported anomalies and expressed concerns about massive disenfranchisement of overseas Filipino voters through Migrante’s OAV Bantay Boto Hotline.

As of this posting, the Comelec is yet to respond to the complaints, Bragas-Regalado said.

The OAV Bantay-Boto Hotline was launched to monitor and gather information and complaints from overseas absentee voters during the whole duration of the OAV. Complaints, feedback and information may be sent to mobile number (+63) 932-7043274. ###