The 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.