Overseas  voters  may play a crucial role in May

Published April 17, 2019, 12:05 AM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza & Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

e-cartoon-apr-17-2019The  nation’s  overseas  voters began casting their votes last  Saturday, April 13, for the midterm elections.  There are today some 1.88 million registered voters abroad, of which about 25 percent are expected   to  cast  their votes for 12 new members of the Senate and for party-list organizations for the House of Representatives.

The overseas voters may play a crucial role in the coming elections, Commission on Elections (Comelec)  Director for Overseas Voting Elaiza Sabile David said.  In  the  2016 elections, she noted, over 300,000 votes came from  overseas voters and many of the senatorial  candidates lost  by only 100,000  votes or less.  Comelec  spokesman  James Jimenez added that there is no way at this time to determine how the overseas  voters  will go.

Of the total 1,882,173 million registered overseas Filipino voters, 887,744 are in the Middle East and Africa,  followed  by  401,390   in Asia and  the Pacific, 345,414 in North and South  America, and 177,624 in Europe.

There have been surveys indicating how voters in the country are likely to vote on May 13. They have been responding to daily media reports as well as intensive campaigns  by  the candidates  with their respective vote-getting machines. There have been significant  changes  in the survey results  in the course  of the campaign.

Our overseas  voters are less likely to be affected by Philippine media reports,  personal  appeals and appearances  of  the candidates, and  machine politics  at work  in various parts of the country. They could  be  of a more independent  mind  than their fellow citizens who have chosen to stay in the country.  But  all  this is speculation, as there has been no opinion  survey among  overseas voters. Nor can there be a reliable one,   considering  widely different concerns and interests of  these Filipinos in widely  different parts of the world.

We can only be assured that all these voters continue to have the interests and concerns of our nation  at heart. They may  have gone to live and work in other countries, mostly out  of necessity, but they continue to assert  their oneness with the nation.  We  thus  welcome the overseas vote in the coming midterm elections, for it reflects the continuing interest of our Overseas Filipino Workers in all that is happening in our country today, including the crucial election of senators and party-list organizations on May 13.