Saturday, February 28, 2009

Extension of OAV registration in Jeddah

28 February 2009

Migrante KSA welcomes extension of OAV registration in Jeddah
Urges wider participation to exercise to right to vote

Migrante Saudi Arabia warmly welcomes the efforts by the diplomatic missions in Saudi Arabia to extend the registration for Overseas Absentee Voting (OAV) up to Thursday, even as the group bats for wider participation in the electoral process.

This in reaction to recent news that the Philippine Consulate General in Jeddah would extend the OAV registration up to Thursday.

“The new weekend schedule would still jibe with existing working hours and it is only limited in Jeddah, but it is still better than nothing,” notes A.M. Ociones, Chairperson of OFW group Migrante Saudi Arabia.

In Jeddah, registration for absentee voting would thus be open from 8:30AM to 4:30 PM on Saturdays till Wednesday and on Thursdays from 8:30 AM to 12 NN, effective March 1.

Similarly, Vice Consul Roussel Reyes, the Chairperson of the OAV Committee in Saudi Arabia admitted to Ociones in a recent interview, that the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh is just finalizing the security arrangements with the Diplomatic Police.

There is no news about the registration in Al Khobar though.

Despite the new schedule, “Migrante KSA would still to request for an extension of registration up to Thursday afternoons and possibly on Fridays,” Ociones adds.

Encourage awareness

“Also, efforts should be made to widen the awareness of OFWs and encourage the widest possible participation,” Ociones said.

To do that, Migrante KSA would launch an information campaign drive, demand the more data-capturing machines and encourage OFWs in other cities to request for mobile registration.

According to Ociones, Migrante KSA is poised to conduct information drive among the Filipino community by holding discussions on the subject, using a Primer on the Absentee Voting Law they prepared.

For companies with high concentration of Filipinos especially in industrial zones, and cities near the registration centers, Migrante KSA strongly urges sending a request to their employers, to set a certain time or day for them to be able to register and to allow them the use of service vehicles.

“It would only take one OFW to take the initiative of preparing the letter and lead the others,” Ociones explained. “The OAV Secretariat should also take action by sending request letters to the Personnel Department of companies known as concentration of Filipino workers.”

Mobile registration

Three registration centers have been officially designated in Saudi Arabia: at the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh, at the Philippine Consulate General in Jeddah, and at the International Philippine School in Al Khobar.

Since a lot of Filipinos are staying far from the registration centers, the group is also urging Filipino organizations in various cities to send letters addressed to the COMELEC Head Office in the Manila to request for mobile registration.

“Vice Consul Reyes admitted to us that the major hurdle in mobile registration at this point is the lack of data capturing machines, thus it is imperative that this be included in the request for mobile registration addressed to the COMELEC,” Ociones explained.

Sample letters of the said requests would be available soon at their blog:

“Overseas Filipinos have been very vocal about corruption and the political goings-on in the homefront, and absentee voting must therefore be seen by our kababayans as the proper venue to vent it all out,” notes Ociones.

“The absentee voting is a right that overseas Filipinos won through arduous struggle, so we are urging our fellow OFWs actively participate in this exercise.” closed Ociones. ###

Reference: A. M. Ociones
Chairperson, Migrante KSA
(Migrante International - Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Chapter)
Tel. No.: +966-56-679- 3202

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