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OFWs must know importance of senatorial elections, Comelec exec says

11 December 2018

Commissioner Rowena Guanzon with Consulate officials at the Filipino community meeting

By Vir B. Lumicao

Filipino voters should realize how important next May’s midterm elections are because they will be electing senators who will make laws and policies that could affect the economy and their jobs.

Guanzon reunites with UP Law classmate,
Daisy Mandap of The SUN
This was what Commission on Elections Commissioner Rowena Guanzon told Hong Kong-based Philippine media during a meeting at the Consulate on Dec 9.

Guanzon said newsmen should help encourage the OFWs to vote, and to focus on candidates’ programs, not on personalities.

The Comelec official in charge of overseas voting expressed concern that only about 50% of the 87,000 registered voters here cast their ballot in May 2016, despite the month-long poll, and the ease of going to the voting place at Bayanihan Center.

She said Comelec will go to the extent of holding “Rock the Vote” concerts featuring popular bands to draw voters to the polling centers. These concerts could be held not only in Hong Kong but also in key cities in the Philippines.

Guanzon asked the media people for suggestions on  how a rock concert could further lift voter turnout.

Hong Kong has consistently taken the lead in voter turnout in all Philippine posts abroad. But Guanzon said she still wants to see voter turnout in Hong Kong to reach 60% and make the city a model for Filipino overseas voting.

Figures that the Consulate provided to Guanzon showed that the Filipino voters in Hong Kong are overwhelmingly women, at 70,080.

“It’s very important that the voters understand how important this election is for them, especially because they are women and they are the ones who earn income for their families and households. So, what’s happening in the economy should be an issue,” Guanzon said.

She asked the media to help encourage Filipino voters to vote because the issues that affect them are going to be the same: the economy, policies that affect them.

“You know our people vote based on personalities, so I think the job of the media is to really introduce the candidates’ programs and focus your questions on what laws they are planning to propose,” Guanzon said.

She said the upcoming election is particularly important since the move for a Charter change would ultimately be decided by the Senate.   

Guanzon also stressed that candidates should understand that people vote for them as senators believing they can do a good job making laws, and that they understand the law as well as the rights of citizens.

“For example, I heard some candidates talk about the death penalty,” she said. Putting the death penalty back in the Charter would mean the Philippine justice system did not work.
Guanzon andConsul General Tony Morales dancing with a church choir
She also said a candidate can say anything he wants to say, but the voters should choose a candidate who can make laws that will help boost the economy and improve the lives of the people.

Meeting leaders of the Filipino community afterwards, Guanzon repeated her concerns about the overseas voting turnout and the need for the OFWs to understand the significance of the senatorial election.

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