Press Release
April 13, 2010

First vote cast in HK good omen for Villar

Nacionalista Party standard-bearer Manny Villar was elated yesterday to learn that the first overseas absentee voter who cast a ballot voted for him and his running mate Loren Legarda.

"Natutuwa ako na hindi ako nalimutan ng ating mga overseas Filipino workers at ako ang binoto ng kauna-unahang overseas absentee voter bilang presidente. OFWs are truly a key priority in my platform of government. Hindi ako magsasawang tulungan sila," said Villar.

A member of the NP senatorial slate, Susan "Toots" Ople, also a staunch supporter and defender of OFWs just like Villar, said she was pleased that the start of the OAV was "generally smooth and orderly," saying it was a good omen for Villar and the NP.

"...It is a sign of confidence among OFWs that the very first absentee vote or ballot cast was for the tandem of Senator Villar and Senator Legarda. I believe that this will be replicated many times over," said Ople during a press conference yesterday afternoon.

Reports said the first official votes fed into the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) in Hong Kong went to members of the NP. Rowena de la Cruz, member of a migrant workers' group Migrante, voted for the NP. She cast her ballot at the Bayanihan Kennedy Center in Hong Kong.

The month-long overseas absentee voting (OAV) officially started on Saturday (April 10).

According to Ople, the NP has made the protection of the welfare of OFWs part of its platform. "We are the only party with a very concrete OFW platform and a record of assistance to our OFWs, even before the election season," she said.

OAVs have until May 10, 2010 to cast their vote. It is only in Hong Kong and Singapore where the precinct count optical scan or PCOS machines would be used. The old postal voting system will remain in other countries.

"OFWs, although called modern-day heroes, are faced with numerous challenges and problems. Thus, I encourage them to vote wisely and choose a candidate who has their welfare in heart and mind," Villar said.

The number of Filipino OAVs for the 2010 elections has reached 589,830, according to Comelec figures. Of the total, 568,733 are land-based OFWs while 21,097 are sea-based.

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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