Gonaranao Musor, first secretary and consul at the Philippine Embassy in Qatar.
By Peter Alagos
The Philippine Embassy in Qatar is encouraging more Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) to take advantage of the mobile registration units being set up in various locations in Qatar as the Philippine government gears up for the May 2016 national elections.
The embassy, according to first secretary and consul Gonaranao Musor, deploys its 29 mobile registration teams to events or functions involving Qatar-based OFWs.
“At the Filipino Food Festival held during Eid al-Fitr, we had a successful mobile registration drive there and we were able to get more than 300 OFWs to register over the course of the event.
“We make it a point to send our mobile registration teams to events where many OFWs are present in order for us to maximise the opportunity. At the same time, it makes it convenient for them to register, especially for Filipinos who do not have the time to leave their respective workplaces,” Musor told Community.
Musor also advised OFWs to take the October 31 registration deadline seriously: “The deadline may be taken for granted by many OFWs and by the time they realise it, it might be too late for them to register. This is why we are encouraging Filipinos in Qatar to go out and register this early.”
Two months ago, Philippine Ambassador Wilfredo Santos launched the Overseas Voting iRehistro or online pre-registration for the Overseas Voter Registration Form (OVRF).
The event aims to speed up the registration process. The Commission on Elections (Comelec), via www.comelec.gov.ph, states that the “online facility only attempts to facilitate the process of accomplishment of the application form. It does not automatically mean approval of your application.”
“You still have to personally appear before your country’s Philippine Embassy or consulate for biometrics capture to complete the filing process. After this, the Resident Election Registration Board (RERB) still has to approve your application during the scheduled date for the next RERB hearing,” the Comelec added.
Santos said the launching of iRehistro also aims to help the embassy meet its target of getting 16,000 new overseas voter registrants before the national elections set in May 2016.
Asked how the embassy aims to accomplish this, Musor said they co-ordinate with various Filipino Community (Filcom) organisations in Qatar, as well as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs “to guarantee a smooth registration process” for the 200,000 Filipino expatriates in Qatar.
“Before the embassy sends out mobile registration teams, we base it on the number of OFWs expected to attend the event.
“But then again, the actual turnout of OFWs does not necessarily equal to the total number of Filipinos who were able to register during the event. We have to consider the fact that there are already many OFWs in Qatar who were able to register previously,” Musor explained.
He added, “Registration for the May 2016 elections is voluntary, which makes the task at hand very challenging. On our part, we strive to keep reminding Filipinos of their right to suffrage but in the end, it still depends on the person if he or she wants to go out and vote next year.”