Dear Fellow OFW’s in KSA
Please read letter below and kindly click photo icon found at the lower portion of this petition and affixed your Name; or click same link found below Help Keep Election Clean (side bar). Kindly note that your organization/location should be written in the Comment portion of the Petition Letter.
This letter is only for OFWs in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
16 November 2006
Hon. Commissioner Florentino Tuason, Jr.
Chairperson, Committee on Overseas Absentee Voting
Commission on Elections
7/F Palacio del Gobernador
Gen. Luna St., Intramuros
Manila, Philippines 1002
Subject: Request for Voting by Mail in Saudi Arabia in 2007 National Elections
Dear Commissioner Tuason:
No one can paint an accurate picture of the sacrifices we’ve gone through during the 2004 election. The untiring efforts of NGOs in information campaign, transporting voters, employer-employee coordination and other volunteer works in relation to OAV is hard to duplicate.
Voting by mail provides a very good alternative to personal voting, and will surely boost the total number of OFW voters’ participation from the Kingdom. In fact, judging from the size of the host country, its local laws and the limited capability of the majority of OFWs to travel long distance, Saudi Arabia should be on top of the list of countries where voting by mail should be allowed.
The following are some of the reasons why postal voting is more favorable than personal voting:
1) The Saudi postal system is just as efficient and reliable as the postal system in many countries in the West notably in Europe and North America. It uses the P.O. Box system, which is the same system in the UAE. Each company and household owns a postal box number. In companies, a mail person collects the mails regularly, sorts them out and distributes them to the employee-recipients, with ease and efficiency. Conversely, the mail person collects all mails for sending out and posts them accordingly.
2) If OAV will be by mail, OFWs can make representations with their management to ensure that mails are collected from the post office every day during the period the mailed ballots from Comelec are expected to arrive. In addition, OFWs will ensure that mails for the period covered are closely monitored and more frequently checked by the mail person. The same approach can also be done by those employed as household help.
3) Saudi Arabia, host to close to a million OFWs, is 7 times bigger than the Philippines but only three places served as voting centers during the 2004 elections.
First is the Philippine embassy which is located inside the diplomatic area in Riyadh. It is at least 35 kilometers from the three industrial estates where a large number of OFWs employed in manufacturing and construction companies are located. It is also at least three hours drive from the nearest city that is within its area of service coverage. No public transport is allowed to enter the Diplomatic Quarter, only private cars and company buses.
Second is the consulate-POLO office in Jeddah, which is at least 3 to 4 hours drive from the nearby cities of Taif, Yanbu, Makkah, and Madinah. The Industrial area is a one hour travel by public transport. Third is International School in Al Khobar.
Prohibitive distance and absence of mass transportation facility was the major cause of the low voters turn out during the 2004 elections. It is also the reason why this year, the committee on OAV registration was allowed by Comelec to conduct registration on site. Voting by mail is a good solution to this problem.
4) Another reason why OFWs were hesitant to go to the voting centers to exercise their right of suffrage is the fear that a mass gathering of OFWs may invite unnecessary attention from the Saudi public and government. Voting by mail will solve this problem.
Therefore, we, members and representatives of the OFW community in Saudi Arabia, strongly request that postal voting be considered in the conduct of OAV in Saudi Arabia next year and in future exercises.
We trust that COAV will give this appeal its due attention and merit. Thank you.
Name Organization/Company Location in KSA