Hong Kong police flag mass gathering in Kennedy Town as Filipinos cast votes

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 10 2022 04:11 PM

MANILA - The Philippine Consul General in Hong Kong on Sunday urged overseas Filipino voters there to consider casting their votes on another day after local police flagged the deluge of people in Kennedy Town on the first day of the Philippines' overseas absentee voting.

Hundreds of Filipinos based in the Chinese special administrative region trooped to the the Bayanihan Kennedy Town Center prompting authorities to patrol the area to ensure that health protocols are being observed to avoid the possible spread of COVID-19.

"Grabe ang turn out today - isang magandang senyales na buhay at maalab ang demokrasya. Kaya lang lahat ata ay gustong bomoto sa first day," Philippine Consul General Raly Tejada said in a statement posted on his Facebook page.

(The turn out today is overwhelming - a good sign that our democracy is alive and burning. But it seems that everybody wants to vote on the first day.)

"Napansin na po kasi ng mga pulis na sobrang dami ng ating mga botante ngayon at dahil sa safety concerns and anti pandemic measures in place, nakikiusap ang mga pulis na kung maaari ay sa ibang araw na bomoto ang iba," he said.

(The police is asking voters to cast their ballots on another day due to safety concerns and anti-pandemic measures in place.)

Tejada noted that the polling place for registered overseas Filipino voters would be open for 30 days, giving Filipinos ample time to cast their ballots for the 2022 national elections.

"Please consider the request of the Hong Kong Police," he said.

As of April 9, 2022, Hong Kong has listed some 2,500 active COVID_19 cases, with some 9,000 cases confined in hospitals.

Nearly 1.7 million Filipinos based abroad are expected to cast their votes ahead of the 2022 national elections, Comelec Commissioner George Garcia earlier told ABS-CBN Teleradyo.

Overseas voters (OV) may vote up to May 9, either through mail or by personally casting their ballot at the assigned Philippine diplomatic post in their area. 

The OAV was first implemented in the 2004 elections by virtue of the Overseas Absentee Voting Act or R.A. 9189. It was meant to provide equal opportunity for all eligible citizens of the Philippines who are living or staying abroad to exercise their right to suffrage.

The law was later amended by R.A. 10590, which granted Filipinos with dual citizenship the right to vote. 

As of January 2022, there are around 93,600 registered overseas absentee voters in Hong Kong, according to Comelec data.

Hong Kong boasts of having the second highest voter turnout in the 2016 presidential elections with 52,449 votes cast from this Chinese special administrative region, data from the Commission on Elections showed. 

It came next to the United Arab Emirates where 62,103 ballots were lodged.