Overseas absentee voting begins

From a report by Jasmin Romero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 13 2013 11:23 PM | Updated as of Apr 14 2013 07:16 PM

MANILA – They may not be home but many Filipinos living overseas won't miss the chance to exercise their right of suffrage to select the country's future leaders.

In Kuwait, registered voters trooped to the Philippine Embassy to vote.

"Mas madali na ngayon, shading nalang siya at ipapasok nalang sa machine. Unlike before, mas organized ang Philippine Embassy natin," said Marissa Marquez-Princeton, a registered voter.

The overseas absentee voting also began in different countries in Asia, such as Singapore and Hong Kong.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) said there are over 700,000 registered voters in America, Europe, and the Middle East, including seafarers.

"They are all excited...maraming mga tumatawag na members of the Filipino community and they are asking us to help them. Maraming mga organization na mga Filipino who are willing to help our overseas voters on the manner of voting," said Comelec Commissioner Lucenito Tagle, chairman of the Committee on Overseas Absentee Voting.

But not all voters can vote Saturday.

In Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, the Comelec canceled the elections for more than 30,000 voters there, after the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines and election paraphernalia weren't released on time by the Customs.

"Na-delay 'yung release...nakalabas na ang mga PCOS pero ang mga paraphernalia, 'yung mga gamit doon ay 'di pa nalabas," said Tagle.

The elections in Jeddah will begin on April 16.

The overseas absentee voting will last for a month, and will officially close on May 13, 7 p.m. Manila time.