RP officials in KSA expect surge of OAV registrants before Aug. 31
Encouraged by the increase in registration of overseas absentee voters (OAV) in Jeddah last month, Philippine authorities in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) expect a surge in last-minute registrants before the Aug. 31 deadline.
The Philippine Consulate noted that OAV registrants "markedly swelled" during the weekends in July.
With three more local field registrations scheduled to be held in Philippine curriculum schools in Jeddah on July 30 (Al Hekma International School), August 7 (International Philippine School in Jeddah) and August 14 (Pearl of the Orient International School), Philippine officials are becoming more optimistic.
"The Consulate expects a further increase in the number registrants in the final stretch of the registration period," the Department of Foreign Affairs said on its website.
Last July 23 and 24, throngs of Filipinos enlisted for the 2010 elections in Khamis Mushayt, bringing the number of new OAV voters in the Abha-Khamis Mushayt region to 750. [See: OAV mobile registration spreads in Jeddah as deadline draws near]
These included registrants from the nearby cities of Najran and Jizan, the DFA said, citing reports from the Philippine Consulate General in Jeddah.
Consul General Ezzedin Tago commended employers like the International Medical Center (IMC), which he said not only permitted their Filipino employees to go and register, but also provided transportation service to them.
He added civic-minded organizations like the United Filipino Muslims for Peace and Development (UFMPAD) and the "Pinoy sa Jeddah" Internet group campaigned hard to their members on the need for them to exercise their right of suffrage even if they are away from the Philippines.
The Consulate also reminded the Filipino community in Jeddah and the Western Region that OAV registration continues at the Consulate daily, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
With just one month to go, government is aiming to have one million OAVs sign up before the Aug. 31 deadline, but only more than 100,000 have so far signed up.
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.
More than two million Filipinos live and work in the Middle East but less than 28,000 Filipinos have so far registered in the oil-rich region.
Ambassador Nestor Padalhin of the DFA’s OAV Secretariat said the Filipinos’ inherent procrastinating nature caused the poor turnout.
“The Filipinos’ [hasta] mañana habit is clearly manifested in the low turnout," Padalhin said in an earlier GMANews.TV interview. [See: Pinoys' 'mañana' habit blamed for poor OAV registration turnout] -GMANews.TV