Sports Tapped to Promote OAV

Sports Tapped to Promote OAV

By: Bien Custodio (8/16/2003)

RIYADH, 16 August 2003 — Amid a poor turnout by overseas Filipinos in the registration for absentee voters, the Philippine Embassy and organizations in Riyadh are looking into creative ways of stirring interest among community members in the Kingdom.

Embassy officials and community leaders have began visiting places where Filipinos usually gather for sports activities.

Last Friday, the opening ceremonies of the Inter-company Bonafide Basketball Tournament at the Saudi Ceramics compound at the industrial area was turned into a political awareness campaign as organizers and other community leaders took turns explaining why OFWs should register as absentee voters.

“We urge you to take this golden opportunity to exercise your right of suffrage and be responsible voters,” community leader Joey Badong pleaded with the players and their fans. Badong explained that the community leaders are neither supporting nor campaigning for any candidates.

Alex Bello explained that the Philippines needs good national leaders badly and that OFWs should participate in selecting these leaders.

Senators who pushed for absentee voting have said they believed overseas Filipinos could provide a “cleansing” effect on the fraud-ridden Philippine election system. This is supposedly because overseas Filipinos, being economically independent, are less prone to selling their votes to corrupt politicians.

For the first time, overseas Filipinos would be allowed to vote for the president, vice president, senators and party-list representatives in the Philippine national election scheduled in early May 2004.

Rashid Fabricante explained that for an OFW to be able to vote, he or she must first register.

The registration period, which started Aug. 1, will continue until Sept. 30.
Under the Philippine Overseas Absentee Voting law, however, registration could be done only inside the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh, the consulate in Jeddah, and at the International Philippine School in Alkhobar (IPSA).

“While there’s still more time to register, it’s better to do it now. If you wait for the last few days, you will encounter long lines,” Fabricante said.

Vice Consul Adrian Cruz, the guest speaker, talked about the requirements for registration and encouraged them to provide him names and contact numbers of their employers so that the embassy could write and request for a day’s off for Filipino employees so they can register at the embassy.

Last Friday’s tournament was organized by the Kalipunang Kaakabay ng Manggagawang Pilipino sa Saudi Arabia (KAKAMPI-KSA) supported by International Coalition on Overseas Filipinos Voting Rights (ICOFVR), E-Lagda, and OFW Congress.

Industrial area-based companies like Al-Watania, Saudi Lighting, Saudi Ceramics, L’Azurde Jewellers, and Al-Suwaidi fielded their respective teams. Championship will be held on Sept. 12 at the embassy to “highlight more the objective of the tournament.”

The games are to continue today at the Saudi Ceramics Company grounds, on Aug. 22 at the Al-Sharq Factory-Villa, on Aug. 29 at the L’azurde — Jewellers, and back to the Saudi Ceramics Company grounds on Sept. 5.

According to Manuel Amora, KAKAMPI-KSA president and tournament chairman, there are about 39,000 Filipinos working in the industrial area which is comprised of 3 zones. Amora said the staging of the tournament is under the auspices of the embassy, Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).

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