Duterte, Robredo win in territory under SF consulate’s charge
SAN FRANCISCO – After the month-long overseas voting for the 2016 Philippine national elections, the Philippine Consulate here reported an unofficial total of 14,398 valid ballots cast by the eligible Filipino voters under the consulate’s jurisdiction.
The figure represented more than 31-percent of the total 46,831 registered voters, surpassing the 18 percent turnout in the last 2013 elections.
The San Francisco Philippine Consulate has within its jurisdiction 10 states (eight full states and two half states) — Northern California, Northern Nevada, the states of Alaska, Idaho, Washington, Utah, Oregon, Montana, Wyoming and Colorado.
In the presidential contest, the results had Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte garnering 6,535 votes or 45.39 percent of the total valid votes cast, with administration bet Secretary Mar Roxas getting 4,035 (28.02 percent) and Senator Grace Poe with 1,877 or 13.04 percent, to round out the top three vote-getters.
For the vice presidential race, Bicol Congresswoman Leni Robredo came out on top with 5,588 votes or 38.81 percent, with Senator Ferdinand Bongbong Marcos Jr. trailing with 4,316 votes or 29.98 percent and Senator Francis Escudero far behind with 998 or 6.93 percent.
Official canvassing in Washington, DC
The results were gathered from the reports turned in from the 46 precincts of the San Francisco consulate; canvassing of the official results will be done at the Philippine Embassy in Washington, DC. Consul General Henry Bensurto Jr. fly to the capital to be with the other consuls general who are going to submit all the election results from their respective posts.
“I was the last to vote for personal voting at 1:45 a.m. shortly before the 2:00 a.m. deadline to make sure that there was a clear line of demarcation to close down,” Bensurto said.
“There were three voters who came after 12 midnight before the deadline and it was nice to have an encounter with someone, who is a little disabled, from faraway Stockton who drove for two hours just to make sure he was able to deliver his mail-in ballot,” the consul reported.
“It was very touching as he even asked his daughter to drive for him. He was a microcosm, if I may say, of the general sentiment and mentality of the Fil-Ams, which is very good.”
Bensurto recalled that in terms of numbers, there were 15,000 registered voters in the 2013 election and the total number of votes cast was around 2,000 or about an 18-19 percent turnout. He was happy that the number of registered voters went up to 46,831 after adding the seafarers and 436 who were left out of the registration list but were corrected in time.
A good mandate
“From the perspective of participation, we can say that democracy is pretty much alive not just in the Philippines but also among overseas Filipinos. And if we are talking of the 81 percent of the unofficial turnout in the Philippines, what that means is that we have a good mandate,” Bensurto asserted.
Some 1,500 mailed-in ballots in the last batch were even picked up by consulate personnel from the United States Postal Service office before the 12:00 p.m. PST deadline of May 9 to make sure those with mailed-in ballots were not disenfranchised.
After closing down all the 46 precincts in the San Francisco consulate, the results in every precinct were publicly announced before they were to be delivered personally by consuls to the Board of Canvassers in Washington, DC.
By and large no big problems were reported in the first-time use of automated voting, just some minor technical problems that were overcome.
“This was also the first time that we implement postal voting that made it very convenient for many Filipino Americans to actively participate that also led to the upsurge on the number of the turnout.” Bensurto reported.
He thanked the 35 members of the consulate staff who, “worked very hard for the needs of more than 46,000 voters to avoid disenfranchisement and who were personally dedicated to their civic duty.”
“I’d like to specifically mention Deputy Consul General Jaime Ramon Ascalon and Consul Reginald Bernabe who were ably assisted by Sheila de Jesus who worked very hard to lead the other staff members,” Bensurto mentioned.
However, Aurora Victoria David, a representative of Migrante party list complained that during the registration process, there was lack of information dissemination by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and the Consulate on the October 30, 2015 deadline for the registration.
“There were also instances of people were not receiving their ballots despite their requests for a change in address, and even the San Francisco Consulate admitted that there was a number of change of address requests that the Comelec in the Philippines did not comply with,” David reported.
Felix Rosario, 70, of San Juan Ilocos Sur, who now resides in Vallejo, arrived way beyond the deadline for personal voting of 2:00 a.m. of May 9.
“I wanted to vote but was told that I should have registered as I was not on the list of voters even if I was able to vote every election,” rued Rosario. “They should consider that older people like me are not used to accessing the Internet or even the computer if there is no one around to help us.”
To further improve information dissemination, David proposed that earlier outreach efforts and engagement with Filipino groups be conducted as that might “help avoid these from happening. In our case, we were the ones who had to actively follow-up with the consulate on announcements of information particularly on deadlines.”
David continued that the presence of more personnel to answer the phones and the emails would also help in responding to voter’s needs since a number of voters said their phone calls were not answered but instead went to voice mail.
Overall, David acknowledged that the Consulate had been cooperative particularly in responding to their questions and she was definitely happy that there was a higher turnout of voters, which was placed at 30 percent.
Adnan Alonto, overall poll watch coordinator for Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, said the conduct of the election was “orderly, certainly peaceful, and I have not seen any untoward incident that will lead to the conclusion that there was any kind of cheating. I would say that it was done in accord with election laws and it was very orderly.”
Alonto reported instances when voters were not allowed to vote because their names were placed on the deactivated list, while some arrived after the 2:00 a.m. deadline for personal voting.
“But other than that, we have not observed any form of irregularity. I am generally satisfied. The elections here in San Francisco pretty much reflect the sentiments in the homeland,” Alonto affirmed.
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