Responsive Ad Slot




Buhay Pinay



Philippine News

Join us at Facebook!

PCG plans to open voter registration on Saturday amid clamor

31 August 2021

By Vir B. Lumicao 

The rush to register for next year's election has caused overcrowding at the Consulate on Sundays


Responding to a strong clamor from Filipino migrant workers, the Consulate says it is considering opening on the last four Saturdays left before the voting registration for overseas Filipinos ends on Sept. 30.


The call to extend the voters’ registration beyond the Consulate’s opening hours on Sundays to Thursdays came mostly from migrants whose only rest day in the week falls on a Saturday.


About 300 Filipino domestic workers have so far signified their intention to enlist for the May 2022 presidential election if the registration was opened on a Saturday.


Consul General Raly Tejada said he is discussing the plan with his officers and will make an announcement accordingly.


“I can confirm that the PCG (Philippine Consulate General) is planning to open voter registration during Saturdays. However, I wish to appeal to all our nationals to also consider coming during weekdays,” ConGen Tejada said in reply to an online query.

He acknowledged that the Sunday overflow of people at the Consulate, mainly because of workers who want to register for overseas voting, has been difficult to manage. He thus appeals to workers to register on weekdays if possible.

Call us!

“Last Sunday was very difficult for many as some had to wait 3-4 hours to finish, something that would not even take more than 30 minutes during weekdays as there are a lot less clients,” he said.

The country’s top diplomat also expressed hope that employers would give time to their helpers to attend to official business during the week.

“I hope employers could also allow their employees to go out during weekdays to make official transactions (including voter registration) as this will certainly lessen the stress and waiting time for everyone,” ConGen Tejada said.

Congen Tejada says there is a plan to hold registration in the last 4 Saturdays before the deadline

For the first time since overseas voting registration for Filipinos began in 2003, no outreach or mobile services were initiated during the year-long list-up, which would have allowed workers who are off on Friday or Saturday when the Consulate is closed, to register.


The unprecedented slowdown is largely due to the pandemic, which forced the Consulate to shorten service hours for several months, especially when the infection in Hong Kong was at its peak.


Many workers were also unable to go out on their rest days, or opted to stay close to their residential area.


But some Filipino community leaders are worried that the seeming lack of a high-profile campaign by the Consulate to encourage newcomers to register could seriously deflate Hong Kong’s registration figure, which has always been the highest in any overseas post.


This concern was relayed recently to Consul Robert Quintin, who oversees voter registration, by Dolores Balladares-Pelaez, chair of United Filipinos in Hong Kong.


Pelaez said afterwards that she got assurance that the Consulate would hold voter registration on Saturdays if at least 50 qualified registrants would sign up to request this service.


Informed about this condition, The SUN asked members of the Facebook group Domestic Workers Corner to declare their intention to register as overseas voters if the Consulate opened for this service on a Saturday.


In less than 24 hours, more than 300 migrant workers answered in the affirmative, and even provided their names and those of their friends to show their willingness to take part in the election process.


Earlier stories on voter registration which were posted on The SUN’s Facebook page also drew the same overwhelming call to open voter registration on Saturdays.


Many expressed frustration that they are being deprived of their right to register and vote just because the Consulate is closed on their rest day, or on statutory holidays when they are also allowed to take the day off.


On Monday evening, DWC emailed a request to the PCG to give its so-called Saturday Group a chance to register. Attached to the email was a list of 266 names of workers who have signified their intention to register if the Consulate opened for the service on a Saturday.


The strong clamor reflected the eagerness of Filipino migrant workers in Hong Kong to vote in national elections in the Philippines, which take place every three years.


The interest usually peaks every six years, when Filipinos overseas get the chance to cast their ballot for the country’s next president, vice-president, senators and a party-list of their choice.


Next year is the next presidential vote, when Filipinos all over the world will elect a successor to President Rodrigo Duterte as well as other key officials.


When he was elected in 2016, an unprecedented 93,978 Filipinos had registered to cast their ballots in Hong Kong.


Quintin said it would be difficult to even match this registration figure now, but has declined to give the latest tally.

Don't Miss