Tuesday, 30 March 2010

British-Filipinos urge active part in May polls


MANILA, Philippines—British-Filipinos in the United Kingdom have launched a website aimed at informing and enlightening Filipinos overseas and Filipino Internet users in the Philippines on issues concerning Philippine politics and the future of the Filipino electoral system.

The website, “promotes to Filipino voters to look into the basics of casting a vote, the capacity of a candidate to govern, their policies, and their political tendencies.”

“Also, it instinctively questions the Filipino voter, ‘Since when did you ask a candidate whether he/she belongs to the left, the center, or the right?’” it said in its news release.

Young British-Filipinos and Filipino academics working in London formed the group that set up the website. Among them were the website’s creator, Mark Wolfisz, an economics student from Queen Mary, University of London and an active youth leader working with the Filipino community in the UK, Gene Alcantara, who ran for a seat at the European Parliament in 2009, and Rizal Buendia, a professor on South East Asian politics at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.

“We made onefilipinovote.org to educate Filipinos especially Filipinos who are based abroad to take pragmatic steps in deciding who to vote for in this year’s election and what to look forward to in the future,” Wolfisz said.

Over 500,000 Filipinos abroad are eligible to vote in May 10, but this only represents a small number of about 10 million foreign-based Filipinos living and working abroad.

The organization is urging Filipinos everywhere to join their team in promoting political empowerment. It will publish articles all through-out the election period from issues regarding automated elections and the overseas absentee vote to social commentaries regarding the foreign-based Filipino and the growing influence of the Internet in Philippine politics. It also has a dummies’ guide for Filipinos back home to enhance their lives by participating in the whole campaign process while protecting the country’s democracy.

“We must push for a stronger campaign in engaging foreign-based Filipinos to exercise their right to suffrage, but more importantly, to influence the country politically, not just financially,” the news release said.

Onefilipinovote.org noted that The Economist, on its February 13 UK issue, said, “The people power of Filipinos abroad—who after all may vote—could be a vocal force for good.”

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