Fil-Ams voted for 10 of 12 Aquino-backed candidates
WASHINGTON, D.C.–U.S.-based Filipinos voted for 10 administration-backed senatorial candidates in the just-concluded absentee voting that drew almost thrice the turnout compared to the previous mid-term elections.
Reelectionist Francis Escudero topped the Senate race among Pinoys in America with 9,464 votes, followed by Alan Peter Cayetano, 9,174; Grace Poe, 9,029; Loren Legarda, 8,696; Aquilino Pimentel III, 8,448; Bam Aquino, 8,267; Juan Edgardo Angara, 7,735; Richard Gordon, 7,291; Ramon Magsaysay Jr., 7,187; Riza Hontiveros, 6,983; Antonio Trillanes, 6,521 and Juan Miguel Zubiri, 4,908.
All were administration candidates except for Gordon and Zubiri, who were aligned with the opposition United Nationalist Alliance.
A total of 14,098 cast their ballots, about 15 percent of the 93,229 registered Filipino-American voters in areas served by the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C. and the Consulates General in Agana, Chicago, Honolulu, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco.
The month-long absentee voting was held from April 13 to May 13, with the voters given the option to either vote by mail or in person in duly designated voting venues.
Despite the relatively low turnout, Cuisia observed that it was still a marked improvement of 282 percent compared with 3,602 who voted in the 2007 mid-term elections.
“I would like to thank all our kababayan for keeping their faith in the democratic process by participating in these mid-term elections,” Cuisia said.
“The efforts exerted by those who cast their votes are truly encouraging and speak volumes of their commitment to the ideals of democracy,” Cuisia added, noting that many of these voters had to travel long distances and take time off their work.
“Vote of confidence”
The ambassador said the results of the elections are “clear vote of confidence” on the administration of President Benigno Aquino III, who continues to enjoy very approval ratings midway through his six-year term.
“This is a vote of confidence for the President and the reforms he has undertaken since he assumed office in 2010,” Cuisia said late Wednesday, shortly after the Special Board of Canvassers at the embassy concluded its canvass of election returns from the U.S. mainland and Hawaii.
Bay Area results
In the Bay Area, the election results were reflective of the sentiments among U.S.-based Fil-Ams who participated in the absentee voting program for overseas Filipinos.
Escudero topped the senatorial elections, chalking up 2,004 votes to lead nine other administration candidates who made it to the “Magic 12.”
Consul General Marciano Paynor Jr. said at total of 2,846 Pinoys voted, most of them in seven voting “precincts” designated by the consulate.
Paynor said those who voted represent 16 percent of the 17,859 registered overseas absentee voters in the areas covered by the Consulate General’s area of jurisdiction.
The low turnout was blamed partly to a provision of the absentee voting law that requires overseas Filipinos who voted under the program to return to the Philippines within three years, a requirement that has been described as both impractical and oppressive.
Apart from Escudero, the other top 12 vote-getters were Poe – 1,907, Cayetano – 1,902, Magsaysay Jr. – 1,797, Pimentel – 1,777, Legarda – 1,725, Angara – 1,627, Aquino – 1,625, Gordon – 1,565, Hontiveros – 1,429, Trillanes – 1,350, and Zubiri – 1,076.
Among the party-list groups vying for seats in the House of Representatives, the OFW Family Club Inc. garnered the most votes from the Filipino-American community with 1,470 votes, followed by the Coalition of Association of Senior Citizens in the Philippines, 743; Gabriela Women’s Party, 642; Citizens Battle Against Corruption, 609; Bayan Muna, 585; and Migrante Sectoral Party of Overseas Filipinos and their Families, 460.
Others on the list were You Against Corruption and Poverty, 404; Akbayan Citizens Action Party, 358; Pilipinos with Disabilities, 291; Ang Nars Inc., 262; Magdalo Para sa Pilipino, 231; Alyansa ng OFW Party, 231; Advocacy for Teacher Empowerment Through Action, Cooperation and Harmony Towards Education Reforms, 214; Agbiag! Timpuyog Ilocano Inc., 159; and Act Teachers Party-List, 143.
Cuisia thanked Consuls General Mario De Leon in New York, Hellen Dela Vega in Los Angeles, Julius Torres in Honolulu, Leo Herrera-Lim in Chicago, Bayani Mangibin in Agana, and Paynor in San Francisco for their leadership in helping ensure that the elections are successful.
The ambassador also cited the efforts of Philippine Foreign Service personnel in the U.S. for reaching out to the Filipino American community to participate in the elections.
He lauded, in particular, their decision to keep the doors to the polling centers open until the last minute on Monday to ensure that all votes sent in are counted.
“I salute the men and women of the foreign service for really going out of the way to ensure that our kababayan are able to exercise their right to vote,” Cuisia said.
He added that he is confident that more Filipino-Americans would be able to register and vote in the 2016 presidential elections.
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