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Baneng is first voter – again

14 April 2019

By Vir B. Lumicao
Baneng staking her ckaim outside Bayanihan  
Domestic worker Jezelie Mendez staked her claim to being the first to vote in this year’s overseas election in Hong Kong by taking her place outside the voting center a day early.
Mendez, a Migrante activist and street performer, said her desire to become no. 1 voter has become a “panata” (religious vow) since she first accomplished the feat in the 2016 presidential election.
The 37-year-old domestic worker from Pangasinan was again first in the queue when Bayanihan Center in Kennedy Town opened its gates to voters at 7:40am on Apr 13.

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“Baneng,” as she is popularly called in the Filipino community, told The SUN in an interview that she passed by the voting venue at 55 Victoria Road around 8am on Friday morning to check if somebody had beat her in her quest.
Seeing none, she returned around 11:30am with a blue folding plastic stool and a bag of snacks, water and coffee. Before the supply ran out, some friends brought her more food and drinks.
What drives Mendez to aspire to be the first voter?     


“Iyan ay para siguraduhin na ang yung first vote ng Hong Kong ay ma-cast para doon sa mga ini-endorse naming kandidato, ang Bayan Muna Party List na mag-i-ensure na meron tayong kakampi sa Kongreso…and at the same time para naman sa Senator, si Neri Colmenares, No.1 sa listahan ko, para magkaroon naman tayo ng kakampi sa Senado,” Mendez said.
She gets to vote - finally

She said the midterm election is significant because the Senate has an important role in maintaining the system of checks and balances, especially at this time of rampant violation of people’s rights.

“Importante na ang mailuluklok sa Senado at sa Kongreso ay mga (mambabatas) na magtatanggol talaga sa Pilipinas at sa mga mamamayan niya,” Mendez said. 
Feeding the first ballot into the vote-counting machine
She said the people also need lawmakers in the Lower House who will fight for the rights and welfare of OFWs, especially now that they face additional financial burdens such as the mandatory Social Security System coverage and mandatory health insurance.

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 “Natitiyak natin na kapag muling maluklok ang mga congressman natin sa Bayan Muna Party List, sila ang katulungan natin at mangunguna para tanggalin na iyan, para burahin. Kasi hindi naman kailangan iyan ng mga OFW at hindi iyan dapat mandatory,” she said.
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