By Marivir R. Montebon
New York – The Philippine midterm elections is in full swing here in the East Coast, defined by political actors as a crucial time in determining whether the first republic in Asia will continue to be a democracy or become another dictatorship.
The overseas elections are being conducted for a month which started on April 13 at the Philippine Consulate on 5th Avenue. Consul Arman Talbo said in an interview that ballots from voters from the 10 states under the New York jurisdiction must be received by Monday, May 13, in time for the conclusion of Philippine elections. Counting of ballots from Filipinos overseas will be simultaneously counted in the Philippines, said Talbo.
“Those who have not received their ballots must immediately contact the Philippine Consulate. There have been cases when the mailed ballots were on RTS status for change of addresses,” explained Talbo.
As the electoral process continues, political activists and local leaders have actively campaigned for public participation in the elections. ‘Vote for an independent senate’ was the clear message of the critics of the Duterte administration, the last card, they say, for checks and balances in government now that Pres. Duterte holds sway over the Lower House, the Executive department and the Judiciary.
At a press conference on Monday, May 6, 2019, the Loida Nicolas Lewis of the US Pinoys for Good Governance, Michelle Luat of Migrante New York, and Ramon Mappala of the Malaya Movement urged the voters here to choose the Liberal Party slate in order to ensure an ‘independent Senate.’
If the administration candidates took majority of the seats at the Philippine Senate, the plan to amend the Constitution would push through, shifting the country’s form of government to Federalism and could ensure Pres. Duterte’s absolute control over all branches of government.
The groups also called for vigilance for an honest and free elections. The Philippine Comelec said there are about 1.8 million Filipinos outside the Philippines who are set to vote in the midterm elections.
In Washington DC, Eric Lachica of the US Pinoys for Good Governance said that his group is requesting the DFA for an extension of one week for the counting of ballots because of the mailing delays of ballots due to “payment dispute between Comelec and DFA.”
As of May 6, the Philippine Embassy received only 3 percent of the 36,000 Filipino voters in the Embassy region, Lachica quoted Consul Katrina Borja-Martin as saying. (Featured photo by Boyet Loverita)