Press Release
March 5, 2010

Time running out for OFW education drive on auto polls

With a little over a month before overseas absentee voters start casting their votes, time is running out for the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to get its education campaign on automated elections on the road for tens of thousands of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

"Many OFWs report to us that they still have no idea how to use the Precinct Count Optical Scan or PCOS machines, and this is alarming," Nacionalista Party standard-bearer Manny Villar said.

Overseas absentee voters have a month to cast their votes starting April 10.

Filipino overseas absentee voters for the 2010 elections number 589,830, according to Comelec figures. Of the total, 568,733 are land-based OFWs while 21,097 are sea-based.

Automated elections will only be conducted in Singapore and Hong Kong where there are 31,851 and 93,355 registered voters, respectively. Postal voting will be implemented in other countries.

The Comelec, however, has yet to educate all the overseas absentee voters in the two Asian countries, which comprise 20 percent of the half a million overseas Filipino voters.

He called on the Comelec to start immediately its poll information drive for OFWs while there is still time.

"As registered voters, our OFWs are concerned that their votes may not be counted because they are not familiar yet with the automated voting procedures," Villar said.

If elected president, Villar said he would negotiate with host countries in the protection of OFWs through bilateral and trade agreements. He said he would ensure that the protection of the welfare of OFWs through the diplomatic officers and channels are fully supported and met.

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