Consulate in Hong Kong asks voters to, again, consider voting on another day

Kaycee Valmonte - Philstar.com
Consulate in Hong Kong asks voters to, again, consider voting on another day
Philippine Consul General to Hong Kong Raly Tejada
In Hong Kong, lines of over 5,000 voters stretched beyond two kilometers from the Bayanihan Kennedy Town Center up to Mt. Davis this morning.

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Consulate in Hong Kong once again asked Filipino voters there to cast their ballots on other days after the local police force aired concern over the number of people that lined up to vote on Sunday.

As early as 11 a.m., the consulate said that over 5,000 voters went to the Bayanihan Kennedy Town Center to cast their ballots. When asked for an update at 4 p.m., Philippine Consul General Raly Tejada said that people there were still in line to vote.

“We also told the Filipino community here to consider voting on another day because of the number of people who are currently lined up. They could vote but they will need to wait for their turn which may be a little longer than usual,” Tejada told Philstar.com through a voice note on Viber.

Tejada said that while the voting process will end at 5 p.m., the consulate would still accommodate everyone who lined up. Local authorities aired concern because of the current COVID-19 surge in Hong Kong, but Tejada said the consulate has since smoothed things out with them.

“We told them that the consulate, and the Commission on Elections, and the volunteers, and the overseas voting team will work hard and be more efficient so that we can clear the numbers today,” Tejada said in the voice note.

The consul general, in his Facebook post, reminded voters that they still have 21 days to cast their ballots. Lines stretched beyond two kilometers from Bayanihan Kennedy Town Center up to Mt. Davis this morning.

Last week, the first day of overseas voting in Hong Kong was also flagged by the local police force due to the long lines. Voting was put to a halt after the consulate said it had reached the maximum allowed capacity under pandemic protocols.

READ: Overseas Filipino voters in Hong Kong asked to come back on other days to avoid crowding 

Comelec added five more vote counting machines (VCMs) and precincts to accommodate more voters in Hong Kong last week. The additional precincts allowed the consulate to process at least 5,000 ballots daily.

“The additional VCMs are of tremendous help,” Tejada said in a Viber message on Sunday. “Super enthusiastic ang mga Pinoy sa Hong Kong so the turn out is also huge!”

Meanwhile, Tejada also said the consulate’s appeal to all employers to allow Filipino workers to cast their ballots on weekdays “when crowds are substantially thinner” has been successful.

“We saw 2,000 to 3,000 voters coming [from] last Monday until yesterday, Saturday. Normally, wala pa 1,000 ang bomoboto kapag weekdays (voter turnout doesn’t even reach 1,000 on weekdays),” Tejada said.

READ: Filipino voters in Hong Kong welcome additional five precincts

Philippine Consul in Hong Kong Robert Quintin told ABS-CBN News Channel’s “Headstart” last week that the consulate is already expecting to reach the 10,000-mark before this weekend. Tejada confirmed that, as of today, voter turnout in Hong Kong has already passed 10,000.

“I think we are on our way to set a record in terms of voter numbers,” Tejada said.

There are 93,886 registered voters in Hong Kong. Overseas Filipino voters have until May 9 to cast their ballots.



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