Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Vietnam Pinoys cast their votes

It’s still manual voting for Pinoys in Vietnam
Manila Bulletin

HANOI – Filipinos working in Vietnam are eager to vote for a new set of government leaders in their home country even though they won't be able to sample the new poll machines, according to a Filipino diplomat.

Vice Consul Pamela Durian of the Philippine Embassy here said that manual voting has not dampened the spirit of registered Filipino voters as long as they are able to exercise their democratic right.

Votes of overseas Filipinos in Vietnam and other countries, except those in Hong Kong and Singapore, will be counted the old fashion way, by hand.

Of the 3,000 members of the Filipino “floating community” in Vietnam, around 852 are qualified overseas voters by the Commission on Elections (Comelec). Most of these voters have already received their ballots by mail from the poll body and are expected to mail back or drop their accomplished forms at the embassy until May 10, Durian said.

"Most of them are very enthusiastic about voting. Many Filipinos were excited to receive their ballots. It’s good to see they are enthusiastic to exercise their right to vote probably because this is a presidential election," Durian said in an interview at the sidelines of the regional summit last week.

Durian explained that this year’s overseas absentee voting in Vietnam is "postal voting," wherein the completed ballots will be mailed or dropped at consular offices before the manual count on May 10.

In previous elections, she recalled that the embassy carried out the "personal" style of voting in which they had travel to Ho Chi Minh City (the former Saigon) and other key cities to allow Filipino workers to vote.

Majority of Filipinos in Vietnam occupy high-level managerial positions in leading local and international companies, restaurants, hotels, food industry, and special infrastructure projects.

The estimated 3,000 Filipino workers in Vietnam, mostly engineers and construction consultants, bankers, hotel managers, teachers, are classified as temporary migrants.

Most of them are based in Ho Chi Minh City.

Durian said there is a "floating community" of Filipinos in Vietnam since most of them have three-month or six-month contracts subject to renewal of the companies.

She said Filipinos teaching English are also in demand due to the willingness of Vietnamese children to learn the language fluently. "They want to learn from the best, they want to learn from Filipino teachers,” she said.

From January to October 2009, the embassy has helped 70 Filipinos in distress. The cases ranged from detention for investigation related to alleged gambling and drug trafficking, labor concerns, illegal recruitment, and victims of snatching or lost passports.

As this developed, the Comelec expressed confidence on Monday that there will be no failure of elections saying it is even preparing 30 percent of the forms required for a manual count and canvassing.

“We don’t believe in failure of elections. It will not happen and we are preparing 30 percent of the paper requirement for manually conducted counting and canvassing,” James Jimenez, Comelec spokesman, said.

He said if ever there will be a failure of elections this won’t be as widespread as some doomsayers are saying.

“We are confident that there will be no widespread failure of elections. If at all, we’ll have a failure of elections in small precincts much less than 5 percent possibly,” said Jimenez.

This, he said, may be due to reasons attributable to other things such as the Board of Election Inspectors (BEIs) not showing up, precincts being destroyed, imminent flood or fire, insurgent activity in the area…things of that nature,” he added.

Jimenez explained why they are preparing 30 percent of the paper requirement in terms of manually filled up forms. (with a report by Leslie Ann G. Aquino)

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