Hong Kong's Filipino community flocks to vote in home elections
Philippine elections pull more absentee votes from city than in other countries
As absentee voting in Philippine congressional and local government elections began last week, Filipinos in Hong Kong made sure their voices were heard.
Some 2,500 cast ballots, far more than in any other Filipino community abroad.
Ballot boxes were set up at all Philippine embassies and consulates around the world on April 13. Voting concludes in a month.
Sixty per cent of the 737,759 Filipino registered absentee voters abroad are expected to cast their ballots over the coming weeks in the midterm polls, which come halfway through President Benigno Aquino's six-year term.
Philippine Commission on Elections records show 281,372 overseas absentee voters are in the Middle East, 228,309 in Asia, 125,604 in the United States, 75,666 in Europe, and 26,808 are listed as seafarers.
Singapore reported 164 voters cast ballots last week, and in Riyadh in Saudi Arabia, the figure was 149.
Cynthia Tellez, general manager for the Mission for Migrant Workers in Hong Kong, said she was encouraged by the early turnout, but reminded Filipinos working here it was essential everyone voted.
"It's important that Filipinos living here vote, and we've been working hard with other migrant groups in the city to get this point across," she said. "We're urging everyone to vote. It's our constitutional right and a chance for Filipino people here to make their voices heard at home."
Tellez said she believed Filipino workers in Hong Kong had helped their country economically and deserved to have their say in the election. She was not surprised to find the response in Hong Kong was so positive.
"Unlike other countries, Hong Kong is a place where the Filipino community is concentrated. People do not have to travel great distances to vote, so this makes a big difference," she said.
"It still may be difficult for those living in the New Territories because of the expense and working hours, but it's nowhere near as tough to cast a vote as in other countries."
Tellez said all Filipino migrant organisations would continue the information drive over the next month.