The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is hoping to get at least one million Filipinos abroad to participate in the month-long polls for overseas Filipino voters (OFVs).
There are 1,376,067 Filipinos who registered for the absentee voting that started on Saturday. It is the first time that the number of OFVs exceeded the one million mark since the start of overseas voting in 2004.
Undersecretary Rafael Seguis, chairman of the Overseas Voting Secretariat (OVS), said in an interview that Filipino migrants are “more sensitive to their needs and grievances” compared to the past elections.
Seguis believes that the DFA’s massive information campaign mounted last year with the help of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and Department of Science and Technology (DOST) will convince Filipinos abroad to exercise their right of suffrage.
Filipinos in the Middle East showed the highest interest in participating in this year’s elections with 336,202 new OFVs, while Filipinos in Europe showed the least interest with 88,526 new OFVs.
Thirty posts with 1,182,350 voters will do automated vote counting, while 52 posts with 183,823 voters will do manual vote counting. Voting in Baghdad, Damascus and Tripoli is suspended because of the policy on the mandatory evacuation of Filipinos.
“Since overseas Filipinos are considered to be their family’s bread winners, it is not a stretch to surmise that each overseas Filipino can influence the vote of at least three family members. Thus, the 1.3 million active registered overseas voters are roughly equivalent to 5.2 million votes. This is a definite game changer for Philippine politics,” Seguis said.
The OFVs are only allowed to vote for candidates vying for national positions such as president, vice president, senators and party-list group.
Asked who among the presidential candidates will likely win the OFV’s votes, Seguis said Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte is the most popular in overseas Filipino workers’ conversation on social media groups.