FILIPINO AMERICANS are protesting from East to West to defend democracy, fight for accountability, and for many — to reject President Rodrigo Duterte.
Kababayans from New York, Jersey City, Washington D.C., to San Francisco, Los Angeles, Portland and many other cities took to the streets beginning the day after the Philippine Midterm Elections, Tuesday, May 15 up to Friday May 17, and online with the hashtag #Halalan2019, #LabanBayan, #KontraDaya, among others.
Despite the promise of the Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel Romualdez that “all of us are committed to ensuring that our elections are free, fair and credible” and the efforts of the Embassy and Consul Generals in different jurisdictions to keep their offices open daily, including weekends and holidays, for the purposes of the May 2019 elections, kababayans in America have continued to be vigilant especially after the May 13 elections.
In San Francisco, Balitang America Correspondent Rommel Conclara reported on Filipino American activists rallying in front of the Philippine Consulate demanding accountability for what they are calling a dirty and corrupt midterm election in the Philippines, citing disenfranchisement through lost ballots, reported election fraud, illegal campaigning, the broken voting machines, etc.
Balitang America Correspondent Steve Angeles reported on Tuesday that in LA, the counting of ballots at the Philippine consulate coincided with Fil-Am activists protesting the apparent domination of president Rodrigo Duterte’s endorsed candidates. Activists say puts the Philippine democracy at risk.
Balitang America Correspondent Don Tagala reported that the East Coast boasts of a 21% turnout out of the 42,758 registered voters in the ten states covered by the New York overseas absentee voting.
Filipinos there believe that while the low turnout is expected in a non-presidential election cycle, this may have been aggravated by the late rollout ballots as well as ballot packets mailed out to the wrong addresses.
Filipino Americans are also reacting to the news that over 1 million overvotes for the Senate race were recorded during the May 13 midterm elections, based on a study done by ABS-CBN Data Analytics.
According to the report by ABS-CBN News — of the 45,659,724 who cast their votes in the senatorial race as of 95.11 percent of election returns transmitted, a total of 1,170,331 had ballots with overvotes, which meant that these were not counted by machines.
The report further exp[lained that vote counting machines will only accept votes for senator if ovals next to names of up to 12 candidates were shaded, even if some positions were left vacant.
Former Commission on Elections chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. told ABS-CBN News that the high number of overvotes was “alarming” and shows lapses in education campaigns for voters. “There was just not too much publicity on the repercussion of an overvote or the simple statement na pag nag-overvote na mawawala ‘yung boto (that when you overvote, your votes won’t be counted).”
Brillantes further opined that voters may have also been confused on the supposed number of senatorial candidates that they should vote for given that both the administration and opposition did not field 12-member lineups.
Reacting to this news, East Coast Community Leader Dr. Bambi Lorica told me in a message that “based on current numbers, slots 10th to 18th are affected by the 1.18million votes invalidated. Bam and Mar can get in magic 12.”
“Hi (sic) probability that the invalidated ballots voted for the admin 13. May God be with us, “ Lorica added.
As of Friday, May 17, 2019, here are the partial, unofficial results taken from COMELEC data at 98 percent, on the Senatorial Race. Many Fil-Ams are grappling with the thought that the Magic 12 includes names of celebrity senators/their families convicted of plunder and other transgressions against the country, a police chief who carries out Duterte’s inhumane extrajudicial killings in his war against drugs, candidates belonging to the so-called political dynasties, those implicated in the drug cartel, among other offenses.
1. Cynthia Villar
2. Grace Poe
3. Bong Go
4. Pia Cayetano
5. Bato Dela Rosa
6. Edgardo Sonny Angara
7. Lito Lapid
8. Imee Marcos
9. Francis Tolentino
10. Koko Pimentel
11. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr.
12. Nancy Binay
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Gel Santos Relos is the anchor of TFC’s “Balitang America.” Views and opinions expressed by the author in this column 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