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PH consulate in SF close to registering 30K overseas voters

/ 01:42 AM October 14, 2015
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Overseas voter registration in Daly City, California. PHOTOS BY JUN NUCUM

DALY CITY, California–Philippine Consulate staff members in San Francisco led by Consul-General Henry Bensurto Jr. couldn’t be happier these days as they near the 30,000 mark of registered new overseas voters.

Still, they urge all kababayans who have not registered as overseas voters to do so before October 31 deadline, and have added registration events within its jurisdiction apart from the regular ones in the consulate.

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“It is very encouraging that in this year’s registration, we were able to generate good numbers, now almost double the target of 17,000 as we speak,” Bensurto gladly conveyed. “San Francisco is now number one in the U.S. I think worldwide, we are number two or number three. Middle East of course is going to be number one all the time. This is a clear indication of the growing interest of Filipinos overseas to play a greater role in shaping the future of our country by choosing its next set of leaders.”

Bensurto also congratulated and paid tribute to his staff. “The people directly involved with this, led by deputy consul-general Jaime Ramon Ascalon, and the consul on top of this, Reginald Bernabe, exerted an all-out effort to make sure we have the numbers. The passion and advocacy of these officers of mine all the way to the level of staff is just amazing. They worked very hard.”

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Far from sitting on their laurels, however, Bensurto spelled out that their job after this is to make sure that those who registered know about the election next year and they are able to actually vote.

“Registering is one thing, but exercising that vote for next year’s election is another. When you look at the history and statistics from previous elections, and this is what is lamentable in the context of North America, we have around three million Filipino Americans and yet the actual number of votes cast in the previous elections is small,” rued Bensurto. “We have to make sure that they are aware who the candidates are and what their platforms are so they are able to exercise that right in an informed way.”

Nevertheless, Bensurto acknowledged the rising consciousness and maturity of Filipino Americans after only a few years since the dual citizenship and overseas voting laws were passed.

“So there is a learning curve as there was gap in information in the past. But as we go through this exercise year to year, people are now becoming aware of their rights, becoming aware that it is actually a good thing to be a dual citizen and by registering as an overseas voter. That is why it is very important that the consulate general must partner with the community to make sure that this awareness is sustained and increased,” Bensurto observed.

a Filipino couple registering to be voters at the  consulate

A couple registering at the Philippine Consulate in San Francisco.

The consul-general also reported that government staff back in the Philippines have been very supportive of the efforts here in terms of resources and media campaigns both there and here in the U.S.

“So it is really a total effort from all sides and we are just very grateful all of the factors necessary and all the ingredients,” Bensurto said. “I also have to thank the media because we can only speak so much and when you give us the microphone, that voice is multiplied a million times.”

The consulate reminded Filipino nationals and dual citizens that October 31 is the last day to file for reactivation of records of voters who were deactivated for failure to vote twice. Filipinos who registered at the Philippine Consulate General in San Francisco or during its outreach missions are encouraged to check if their records have been deactivated, by visiting www.philippinessanfrancisco.org and clicking the link “list of deactivated voters.”

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All Filipino citizens, at least 18 years old on May 9, 2016 and not otherwise be disqualified by law, and who  have not yet registered as overseas voters/who expect to vote during the 2016 Philippine National elections,  are invited to file an application for registration.

To register, applicants should personally go to the Philippine Consulate General at 447 Sutter, San Francisco, CA 94108 or to its Consular Outreach Missions and special voter registration events.

For the month of October, Filipinos may register at the following Consular Outreach Missions and special overseas voter registration events :

Consular Outreach Missions :

Oct. 16 and 17         Murray, Utah Location: River of Life Community Church, 213 West 4800 Friday and Saturday            South,            Murray, UT 84107

Oct. 23 to 25                        Seattle, Washington

Friday to Sunday      Filipino Community of Seattle (FCS) Center, 5740 ML King Jr. Way, South Seattle

Special Overseas Voter Registration

Oct. 18, Sunday       St. Patrick Church, San Francisco

                                    756 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94103

9:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Oct. 24, Saturday     Wayside United Methodist Church

2309 Columbus Parkway, Vallejo, CA 94591

10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

On Saturday, October 31, 2015, the Philippine Consulate General will be open for voter registration from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

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TAGS: Consul-General Henry S. Bensurto Jr, Filipino overseas voter registration, Philippine Consulate San Francisco, Philippine elections 2016 overseas voting
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