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Hugpong candidates in early sweep of overseas voting in Hong Kong

14 May 2019

By The SUN
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Consul General Morales (in white shirt) leads the tallying of votes in Bayanihan Centrre
Senatorial candidates of the administration-backed Hugpong ng Pagbabago coalition have taken an overwhelming lead in the initial tally of the votes cast in Hong Kong for the mid-term election in the Philippines.
With about 10% of the votes tallied (or 19 out of a total of 88 SD cards from the vote counting machines) as of 11pm of May 13, Hugpong stalwarts Bong Go, Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, Imee Marcos, Pia Cayetano and Glenn Chong are each shown to have consistently won about 70% of the ballots cast.

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Each of these four candidates often garnered around 700 out of the 1,000 possible votes contained in each SD card taken from VCMs in the nine precincts at the Bayanihan voting center.
But all of them could yet be beaten for the top slot by Willie Ong, a doctor who is popular among common folk for the free medical advice he dispenses online. Ong, who was originally in the Hugpong line-up, appears to have won votes from supporters of both the administration and the opposition. For every 1,000 votes counted from each SD card that was tallied initially, Ong often got more than 800.


Ong was among the 15 candidates originally mentioned to have the support of President Rodrigo Duterte, who, however trimmed it down to just 13. Former presidential spokesman Harry Roque quit the race and was dropped from the slate, but no explanation was given as to why Ong was taken off the list.
Apart from Ong, the only other non-Hugpong candidate who could make it to the 12 senatorial slots that are up for grabs is incumbent Grace Poe, who is neck-and neck with administration bets Koko Pimentel and Lito Lapid. Freddie Aguilar is farther down the list, while fellow Hugpong candidate Larry Gadon is well within, at no. 7.

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Opposition candidates who make up the Otso Diretso slate are far behind in the race, with top bet Bam Aquino only at no 23, and fellow former senator Mar Roxas at no 25
Even the party-list race, which has traditionally been won by supporters of the Makabayan bloc in Hong Kong, has now been dominated by administration-supported groups. The runaway winner in this election appears to be ACT-CIS, which is closely linked to Tulfo family members who figured in a Php120 million corruption scandal that resulted in Wanda Tulfo-Teo giving up her post as tourism secretary in the Duterte administration.

ACT-CIS has been getting more than 300 votes in each SD cluster, compared with just over 30 for Makabayan’s top drawer, Bayan Muna. Another favorite with voters is Kasosyo Party, which counts among its nominees Mocha Uson, a former social media influencer in the Duterte administration.
Given the slow tally, Consul General Antonio Morales said the final results from Hong Kong won’t be known until about 5am Tuesday.
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Labor Attache dela Torre helping man the verification counter on last day of voting
Earlier, more than 1,800 voters cast their ballots on the last day of the month-long overseas voting for Hong Kong-based Filipinos at Bayanihan Center in Kennedy Town.
Voters who were mostly foreign domestic workers, took advantage of the public holiday to seek leave from their employers so they could cast their ballots at the last minute.

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At the 6pm close of voting, two women rushed up the stairs at Bayanihan to vote. According to Comelec rules, voters who are within 50 meters of the voting center at closing time will still be allowed to vote. The last voter fed her ballot into the vote-counting machine at precisely 6:15pm, after which she was given her ballot receipt to compare, then drop into a designated box.
At 7:30pm, SBEIs from the nine precincts were still printing out the contents of the SD cards in which data from the ballots cast were stored.
The printouts were then delivered to the Bayanihan auditorium, where the Special Board of Canvassers chaired by Congen Morales began tallying the votes.


A total of 36,009 voters cast their ballots in this year’s elections, representing 42% of the total 87,441 certified overseas voters in Hong Kong. Morales it was the highest midterm election overseas voting result in Hong Kong on record.   
Two persons with disabilities were allowed to vote in the ground floor administrative office of Bayanihan, including a cancer patient.
Among the last to exercise their right to vote were six voters who were registered in other places abroad but were allowed to vote in Hong Kong by the Commission on Elections.
At lunchtime, Labor Attaché Jalilo dela Torre who was helping verify voters’ registration and precinct assignments, said the target tally for the day was 1,000. But by 3pm it became apparent that the target would be overshot, as hundreds came rushing in a last-ditch bid to exercise their right to vote.


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