Opposition Sen. Chiz Escudero yesterday lauded intensified efforts by Philippine embassy and consular officials to register new voters in Saudi Arabia for the May 2010 elections.
More than 500 Filipinos registered as new voters last week in Yanbu, Saudi Arabia, and more are expected to sign on in Riyadh, Jeddah, and Al Khobar in the next few weeks, embassy officials reported.
"The success of the Overseas Absentee Voters (OAV) registration program hinges on the willingness of our countrymen abroad to cast their votes for their chosen candidates even if they are far from home," said Escudero, who is chair of the Joint Oversight Committee on the Overseas Voting Act of 2003.
"This would not be possible without the active support of the hard-working embassy and consulate officials and staff not only in Saudi Arabia but also in other parts of the world."
The period of registration is from February 1 to August 31 to accommodate the listing of OAVs for the upcoming 2010 elections.
At least two million Filipinos live or work in Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States and other countries in the Middle East. The government has set a target of one million OAV registrants.
"The participation of OAVs, whose remittances play a significant role in propping up our economy, will ensure that they count in the selection of our country's leaders," he said.
In 2008, remittances from an estimated 11 million OFWs reached $15.9 billion. Despite the slowdown in the global economy, it is forecast to rise to $18.3 billion this year.