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11/05/2010: Statement of Ambassador Gaa on the Recently Concluded Philippine National Elections; Ballot Counting and Canvassing for Electoral Ballots Conducted at the Philippine Embassy

The Philippines has reached a democratic milestone with the implementation of automated voting and counting in this year‘s national elections.  The first automated voting in the Philippines and in the region has been a success, as reports streaming from different parts of the country showed a positive trend. The May 10 political exercise is a triumph of a sovereign Filipino people and their opportunity to display a strong, stable and vibrant democracy.

This year’s elections have also been characterized as “smooth” and “orderly.” This year’s elections have been described as the most peaceful elections in comparison to the two recently held elections in 2004 and 2007.  The Philippine National Police (PNP) noted that compared to the last two elections, election-related violence was lower by 75%.

The Philippine Commission on Elections (COMELEC) initially reported 75% voter turn-out or 30.4 million votes out of 50.7 million registrants. Recent reports now indicate more than 40 million votes received. Rapid transmission of election results were achieved with more than 80% of the votes counted just a day after the elections. While minor difficulties and some issues were being reported to, and experienced by election personnel, the over-all efficiency of the automated polls belied allegations of possible fraud and cheating. Likewise, fears of disenfranchisement were proven unfounded. In this regard, the valuable lessons learned from this election and the remedies that relevant authorities will surely be implementing after this election will only serve to further enhance and improve the credibility and fairness of Philippine elections in the future.

Overseas absentee voting in the United States proceeded smoothly, thereby allowing Filipino communities to participate in the democratic process in the Philippines. Participation in overseas absentee voting has increased in comparison to the previous elections of 2004 and 2007. Out of a total of 6,958 registered voters under the jurisdiction of the Philippine Embassy in Washington D.C., 1,749 have mailed in or personally delivered their votes to the Embassy.

Overseas absentee votes in the United States are currently being canvassed here at the Embassy. Representatives from our Consulates General in the United States have been arriving today and later this evening to bring in their election results for canvassing. The results of the canvassing of the U.S. overseas vote should be accomplished by Thursday this week.

This is a moment in which all Filipinos can be proud of; a major step forward in our democracy has been achieved. Once again, Filipinos have reaffirmed to the world that we are a nation and a people that remain strongly committed to democratic ideals and principles.

The Philippine Congress has yet to proclaim the winners of this election, but at this stage of the process, it can already be safely said that the biggest winner in all of this is democracy in the Philippines and the sovereign will of the Filipino people. END.

 

10 MAY 2010, WASHINGTON, D.C. – Members of the Special Board of Election Inspectors of the Philippine Embassy conduct an examination of ballots received from registered Filipinos who participated in this year’s Philippine national elections, as Consul General Domingo Nolasco, who chairs the Special Board of Canvassers, explains to the members of the Filipino-American media the mechanics of proper ballot inspection observed by the committee prior to its inclusion in the actual ballot counting.  Overseas absentee voters in the United States participated in postal voting, which ended on 10 May 2010 at 7:00 a.m. EDT (7:00 p.m. in the Philippines). END.