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Bayan Muna: Probe ‘chaotic’ overseas voting in Hong Kong

By: Zacarian Sarao – INQUIRER.net /April 10, 2022

MANILA, Philippines — Bayan Muna Representative Ferdinand Gaite on Sunday called for an immediate investigation of the “chaotic and disorganized” election system in Hong Kong during the first day of the overseas voting for the 2022 elections.

This came after the voting precinct in Hong Kong was unable to accommodate the thousands of voters on Sunday. Voters also questioned why there were only five vote counting machines (VCMs) when there should have been 10 — similar to the previous elections — provided by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to the consular office.

Gaite in a statement said he will ask the Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms of the House of Representatives to summon the Comelec, the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Hong Kong Consular office to investigate the matter.

“We cannot allow the potential massive disenfranchisement of our overseas voters due to the ineptitude and lack of proper organizing by these officials. The slashing of funds by the DBM (Department of Budget and Management) for the overseas voting must also be looked into,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Consulate General in Hong Kong on the same day released a statement explaining that “one of the conditions set forth by the Hong Kong Government is strict compliance with anti-pandemic measures given that Hong Kong is in the midst of the Fifth Wave of the pandemic.”

“Thus, to ensure effective crowd control and compliance with anti-pandemic measures, the Consulate General upon the recommendation of the Hong Kong Police wishes to announce that today’s capacity to accept voters has reached its limit,” said the consulate general.

It then advised Filipino voters to consider voting on Monday or any day until May 9, 2022 as overseas voting will continue for 30 days even during holidays.

However, Gaite questioned why the precinct did not plan for the surge of voters if there was a capacity limit.

“If they were aware of the ‘capacity limit’ of the venue beforehand, should they not have planned for that?” said Gaite.

“Did they not think of requesting for at least 10 VCMs (vote counting machines) similar to 2019 so as to quicken the voting process and lessen long queues, scheduling voters, extended hours during weekdays, among others?” he added.

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