Friday, July 24, 2009

July 24, 2009

Intensified OAV registration bears fruit in Saudi Arabia
RONALDO CONCHA, GMANews.TV07/24/2009 11:35 AM

YANBU, Saudi Arabia - Efforts to woo more Filipinos to participate in the 2010 elections seem to be working in Saudi Arabia as an intensified overseas absentee voting (OAV) registration attracted more than 500 new voters.

Elsa Masa, a member of the OAV team, told GMANews.TV that their campaign in Yanbu over the weekend was a success. Filipinos from different companies and hospitals flocked to Al Tawhid International School to register.

Members of the Alumni of the Alpha Phi Omega Alumni Association in Yanbu assisted the applicants and also provided water and soft drinks.

Saudi Arabia had earlier barred Philippine officials from conducting OAV registrations on Filipino workers’ work sites that are often too far from the nearest Philippine post.Currently, OAV registration in the oil-rich kingdom is limited only to the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh, consular office in Jeddah and Labor office in Al Khobar, as well as all Philippine schools in the country.

Consul Leo Tito Ausan Jr., head of the OAV in the Western Region, said he expects the number of overseas voters for the 2010 national elections to climb as the August 31 registration deadline looms near."Even in the consulate we were able to process almost 100 new voters last Friday," Ausan said.

But based on statistical records, Filipinos in the Middle East have not shown much enthusiasm for the 2010 polls since the six-month registration opened last February. More than two million Filipinos live and work in the Middle East but less than 26,000 Filipinos have so far registered in the oil-rich region.The government has set a target of one million OAV registrants out of an estimated eight million Filipinos abroad.

As of July 22, only 145,300 overseas Filipino voters have registered, according to the OAV Secretariat of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).Nevertheless, Ausan encouraged all qualified Filipinos to register for OAV before the 31 August deadline.

He said OAV Registration is open every day from 8:30 4:30 p.m. Only a copy of one's passport is needed upon registration. [See: Hurry up, Pinoy OAV registrants in Mideast told]Another registration would be set in Khamis Mushayt in the Assir Region on July 23-24. - Ronaldo Bong Concha, GMANews.TV

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