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Filipinos in Thailand all set for PH polls

Andy Noces Cubalit holds his voter's paraphernalia

Andy Noces Cubalit showing his voter’s paraphernalia. EUNICE NOVIO

BANGKOK — Andy Noces Cubalit, a Filipino lecturer in Phitsanulok Province, Lower North of Thailand receives his ballot today. As he thinks of the senatorial bets to vote for, he is sure to choose a fellow Ilocano.

Cubalit is just one of the 6,121 registered absentee voters in the Kingdom. A conservative estimate puts Filipinos in Thailand at 16,000, according to the Philippine Embassy. Not all registered because many of them are constantly moving for visa runs and most are on holidays in the Philippines and will vote there.

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The ballots for the absentee voters are sent through express mail by the embassy. Since June 2015, it had encouraged OFWs to register. Its staff had conducted field services in provinces far from Bangkok.

The ballots for the absentee voters arrived on the second week of March. In spite of the delay and the distances of the provinces, the Philippine Embassy conducted field voting in Chiang Mai starting April 5 and 6 for those who are registered residents, or OFWs, in the Northern and Northeastern Regions of Thailand.

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Voting in Bangkok started on April 9 to go on until May 9. All ballots sent to other provinces must be sent back to the Philippine Embassy by May 9 until 4:00 p.m., 5:00 p.m. Philippine time. The assigned Comelec officials and embassy staff= will do the canvassing of ballots.

“We are asking the Filipinos to send their ballots as early as possible, to avoid the delay and their votes be counted,” the Philippine Embassy announced.

OFWs queing at the Philippine Embassy

OFWs queuing at the Philippine Embassy in Bangkok to vote and to avail other consular services. EUNICE NOVIO

Absentee voting turnout in Thailand in the recent years was very low. The Philippine Embassy hopes that the voters’ turnout this year will be 90 percent.

Presidentiables on Facebook

Facebook is the most popular venue for the OFWs in campaigning for their respective candidates. In Thailand, Duterte Eagles Thailand and DDS Thailand are the most active campaign groups. Mar Roxas and the rest of the presidential aspirants are not popular in the media sites. There is no group campaigning for the vice presidential aspirants, senatorial bets and party-lists.

For a year now, Facebook has been the source of political views of the OFWs in Thailand. Many from Mindanao are solidly for Duterte, while the rest are mixed in their vice presidential bets.

Arnel Bandiola Barcelona from North Cotabato offers free T-shirt printing for his presidential bet. “It is a way of helping him, because he does not have money,” Barcelona says.

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The Philippine Embassy is mum on the campaigning of various groups on Facebook, saying that it is their right to free expression.

“We cannot predict who will win in Thailand. We are not in the position to tell,” an embassy official says.

Josemari Cordova, a sociology lecturer at Vongchavalitkul University in Nakhon Ratchasima believes that the OFWs are concentrating more on who would lead the country rather than focusing on the Senate or the party-lists.

“We are not in the Philippines, so most are not aware on the candidates for senators and even the party list groups. We are more concerned on the person that would lead the country,” he explains.

Absentee voters can only vote for the president, vice president, senators and party-lists.

Whatever the result of the election, OFWs and the Philippine Embassy hope for a peaceful election.

“Our families are there. We want our elections to be peaceful and not be manipulated by the ruling class,” Cordova states.

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TAGS: Filipino workers in Thailand, OFWs in Thailand, Philippine Embassy Bangkok, Vongchavalitkul University, voting among Filipinos in Thailand
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