The number of overseas absentee voting (OAV) registrants was unofficially released recently. As expected, there was a low turnout for the OAV registrations. The Department of Foreign Affairs said that overall it fell short of its goal to have 1 million registrants by the end of OAV registrations last 31 August. Reports from GMAnews.tv said that there are over 216,000 OAV registrants worldwide.
The Philippine Embassy in Canberra released the unofficial number of OAV registrants in Australia. Out of the estimated 9000 eligible Filipinos in Australia, around 7.47% were able to register for next year’s election. Vice Consul Alex Go explained that the 672 registrants does not include Filipinos in New South Wales (NSW), where the registration was handled by the Consul General Office in Sydney. Vice Consul Go said that in the mobile OAV registrations that they managed, Western Australia had the most registrants. Following are the number of registrants in major Australian cities:
Queensland (Brisbane and Toowoomba): 143
Philippine media reports claimed that the “DFA has done everything, from talking to Filipino community leaders to aggressively promoting the registration in the media to increase the OAV figures, but new overseas voters seem elusive.” However, news of the OAV registrations here in Australia spread only by word of mouth in the community, there was no ‘aggressive’ promotion of the exercise.
This blogger initiated a signature drive for OAV registrations in the past few weeks prior to the deadline of OAV registrations. There were setbacks during the ‘personal’ campaign as one religious leader of a major Filipino sect explicitly expressed his rejection of the said initiative saying Philippine politics is ‘chaotic.’ The religious leader also claimed that “there is an “unofficial” directive from Manila that their expat members (or those based outside Manila) do not participate in the coming election.” One of the most instrumental supporters of the OAV registrations here in Perth are Manila Restaurant especially Mr. Gian Carlo Narciso who led the signature drive there securing almost every customer’s signature; and, the Filipino Australian Club of Perth, Inc. which hosted the OAV registrations.
Vice Consul Go estimates that election will start from April 10 here in Australia.