The Philippine Consulate General in Agana is looking at requesting the Philippine Commission on Elections to send a team to conduct overseas absentee voting in the CNMI, allowing registered Filipino voters to cast their ballots in person for the 2013 election.
“If possible, we will request them to fly out here and provide us assistance during the voting process,” Guam Consul General Bayani V. Mangibin said during a recent visit to Saipan.
Mangibin flew to the Northern Marianas capital with Consul Gary Auxilian on Sept. 10 for a five-day visit in preparation for taking over the consular responsibilities of the Saipan consulate after its last day on Oct. 31.
The Philippine Consulate General on Saipan will shut down as part of a wider effort to consolidate foreign service posts in the Pacific.
The Guam consulate's request is part of its two-tiered plan to encourage registered Filipino voters in the Commonwealth to exercise their right to elect the nation's succeeding leaders.
The other part of the plan, Mangibin said, is for the Guam consulate to send their team of representatives to conduct the overseas absentee voting on Saipan.
“Should the Comelec team not arrive, we will be here definitely. That's our obligation, so we will be here,” he told reporters at a news briefing hosted by the Saipan consulate.
Mangibin noted the need to have the registered overseas absentee voters personally appear at a designated polling precinct in hopes to keep the same turnout as that of the May 2010 national elections.
The Saipan consulate posted a record of 7,169 registered absentee voters in the last election, the second highest among Philippine consulates across the U.S, and 10th from all over the world. Of this number, 46.6 percent or 3,341 actually voted.
“We really want to maintain that kind of accomplishment,” added Mangibin.
He reminded Filipinos in the CNMI to register for the overseas absentee voting for the May 2013 election.
The deadline for the registration and certification process is on Oct. 31, a Wednesday, which coincides with the Saipan consulate's closure, he added.
Saipan Consul General Medardo G. Macaraig earlier said that they expect a lower registration turnout for this election due to the decline in the Filipino population in the Commonwealth, attributed mainly to the federalization of the CNMI's immigration system and continued economic downturn on the islands.
For more information, visit the Saipan Consulate at the 5th floor of the Marianas Business Plaza in Susupe or call 234-1850.