YOU care about the Philippines. You want the next president and vice-president to really lead the nation toward progress, peace, order. You want to see more employment opportunities in the Philippines so you can come home and settle down in the Motherland for good, or have a loved one come back and never have to leave again . You want your hard earned dollar that you send to the Philippines really go a long way for your loved ones and not for some thieves in the government bureaucracy.
Channel the frustration into hope, and hope into reality by exercising your right to VOTE. If you are a Filipino citizen or a dual citizen, then your vote will count in the May 9 Philippine election. You vote may in fact be a swing vote that can decide who will win in the election.
How do you do this? The voting process has become so simple and fast, especially with the voting machines that can now electronically receive your vote and transmit results to the Philippine Commission on Elections. But for your vote to be counted, you have to do what you need to do as a responsible citizen.
The Filipino Channel’s daily newscast “Balitang America” has been airing information stories to guide you in the new voting process.
If you live in a city that is near the Consulate or Embassy, then enjoy the pride and experience of going there to cast your vote as internationally renowned Pinay Broadway singer and actress Lea Salonga did. If not, let this information from the report by Balitang America’s New York Correspondent Don Tagala serve as your guide:
Since April 9, Filipino overseas absentee voters who registered for the 2016 Philippine elections will start receiving voting packets from their respective Philippine consulates.
The packet contains a paper seal, a return envelope, an instruction manual in Tagalog and the ballot itself.
In a press conference, Consul Kerwin Tate said the ballots are shorter than the ones in Philippines because local positions are excluded.
Using only black ink pens, Tate showed how to completely shade their choices for president, vice president, 12 senators and a party list.
The machine may not be able to count a vote if pencils or any other colors are used and if shading is incomplete.
“If you mark two for the president, that will not be counted. Not invalid but it will not be counted,” said Tate. “If you mark 13 senators that will not be counted either but if you put 11, that’s an under vote that will be counted.”
Fold the ballot and place it in the return envelope. Do not use any other envelope other than the provided official return envelope.
Seal the envelope and place the provided paper seal sticker on the top flap.
Fill out the blanks on the face of the envelope.
“You will put your signature and write your name, there’s a box where you sign,” added Tate. “There’s a box where you sign your name and then you buy your stamp for the ballot.”
Voters have the option to main in their ballot or deliver the ballot in person to their respective consulates.
On Mondays and Thursdays, voters also have the option to personally feed their ballots into the vote counting machines at their Philippine Consulates between 9am until 5pm.
In accordance with a recent Philippine Supreme Court ruling, a ballot receipt will now be printed after each feeding.
Registered voters who have home address changes or who have not received their ballots may email the Philippine Consulate in New York at email@example.com or fax their change of address at (212) 764-6010.
“We encourage them to fill up the ballot and to mail it immediately,” said Consul General Mario de Leon.
Whether by mail or hand-delivered, completed ballots must be received at their consulates before 5am on May 9, otherwise late ballots or tampered ballots will not be counted.
SIGE NA! BOTO NA! Let your voice be heard and your vote be counted!
* * *
Gel Santos Relos is the anchor of TFC’s “Balitang America.” Views and opinions expressed by the author in this column are are solely those of the author and not of Asian Journal and ABS-CBN-TFC. For comments, go to www.TheFil-AmPerspective.com, https://www.facebook.com/Gel.Santos.Relos