RP seeks approval for mobile voters registration in KSA

MANILA, Philippines — Philippine officials in Saudi Arabia have appealed to the host government to allow mobile absentee-voter (OAV) registration drives for Filipino workers based there.

Online news site Arab News (www.arabnews.com) reported Thursday that Philippine Ambassador Antonio Villamor is waiting to see if the Saudi government would allow the arrangement.

"If they don't agree then we have to follow the rule that registration will be conducted (only) at the embassy premises," Villamor said.

Villamor appealed to Saudi authorities to allow mobile units to be present "in places where there are big concentrations of OFWs, so that there would be more OFWs who could register."

He said that if permission is denied, OFWs wanting to vote in 2010 will have to register at either the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh or the Consulate in Jeddah.

Villamor said holding the registration at the embassy in Riyadh and the consulate in Jeddah only would exclude many OFWs who would be unable to make the trip to these two locations.

Meanwhile, members of the PPP (Pangmundong Partidong Pilipino/Global Filipino Party) met Tuesday with officials from the Philippine Embassy to discuss the forthcoming voter registration drive, rescheduled to start Feb. 1 from Dec. 1.

The forum, attended by Vice Consul and Third Secretary Roussell Reyes, along with about 50 PPP members from Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam and Al-Khobar, discussed the launching of an election-awareness and registration campaign.

"But while the PPP will help drum up interest among OFWs to go out and register on Feb. 1, 2009, its members will not be in any way involved in the actual voting in 2010. They will assist only as members of their respective community groups," said Carlito Astillero, president of the Riyadh chapter of the PPP.

Astillero said that the meeting was conceived to avoid the relatively low turnout of voters in 2007, which was blamed on lack of awareness.