Little interest for voting among Filipinos

Little interest for voting among Filipinos
Updated 24 April 2013

Little interest for voting among Filipinos

Little interest for voting among Filipinos

The enthusiasm that was widespread among the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) some 10 years ago to participate in the election of public officials seems to have dwindled with the passage of time. At the forefront then were the Overseas Absentee Voting (OAV) conveners, who encouraged and coordinated with the compatriots for timely and convenient voting.
The clamor for voting rights had made the Philippine government send a delegation to hold talks with OFWs in the Kingdom. The delegation had included then Rep. Augusto Syjuco, and Senators Franklin Drilon, Edgardo Angara, Panfilo Lacson and Tito Sotto. The OFWs’ wish to vote was subsequently granted.
A decade on, any such clamor has disappear, and any enthusiasm noticeable at the time among Filipinos working in Saudi Arabia has shrunk considerably.
Even the OAV conveners are nowhere to be seen. They should be among those drawing fellow OFWs to the embassy for vote to avoid the last-minute rush on May 13, the last day of OAV voting in the Kingdom and other countries.
Lamenting the situation, Alex Bello, section head at an electrical company’s purchasing department and one of the original OAV conveners, told Arab News that he cannot force them to come to vote.
“I am still an advocate of the Filipinos' right to suffrage, but I can only urge my compatriots to exercise their right to vote. Forcing them is another thing,” he said. Among the original OAV conveners included Rashid Fabricante, Ellen Sana, Jun Aguilar, Mike Bolos, Isagani Manalo and Joey Badong.
A visit to the embassy during voting hours last Sunday showed that except for the volunteers, those who stood smiling from ear to ear, and who enthusiastically manned the polls, there was hardly any voter.
A random survey among OFWs showed that they have at least three main reasons why they have not yet gone to the polls, work pressure being one of them. The other excuse they cite for not going to vote included pressing petty problems at home, and their views about their government back in Philippines not doing enough for the poor.
“We want to vote, of course. But there’s just much work that we can’t go to the embassy during office hours. When we get out of the office in the afternoon, the embassy is already closed,” said Eric P. Asi who works as a senior engineer for an electrical company and that there is plenty of time left.
“I and my better half can vote in a few minutes once we go to the embassy to vote during the weekend,” he said.
Another OFW working for an electrical company said that many Filipinos in the Kingdom’s capital have family problems taking care of which they consider more important than going to the embassy to cast their votes.
“Such problems include lack of money to pay for all financial obligations either in the Kingdom or in the Philippines. This inevitably detracts from their enthusiasm to exercise their right to vote,” he said, adding that he’ll try to explain to them the importance of voting.
Others claim that they had been indifferent to participate to vote because even if the economy had shown improvement, the condition of poor Filipinos had not improved.
“Despite claims that corruption had been greatly reduced under the current administration, it still exists in high places in the government. In fact, I have just read that those benefitting at the Bureau of Customs are up against the proposal of Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon to abolish it,” an OFW belonging to a militant group said.
Ambassador Ezzedin H. Tago has been making appeals to the concerned OFWs to exercise their right to vote because they had worked hard for it.
The Filipino envoy, however, praised some ailing OFWs who appeared at the embassy to vote. They included Joseph Futad Que, a heart attack survivor; Juanito N. Emperador (who said, “It’s the right of every Filipino to vote”); and Lolito B. Torrano who traveled 150 kilometers from Al Kharj to Riyadh to vote.
The embassy announced that the first week of automated elections in Riyadh has been successful. A total of 332 voted on the 7th day of elections in Riyadh, bringing the total voter turnout to 1,326 during the first week of elections.
The first figures for the week of voting in Riyadh coincided with the report of the OAV Secretariat of the Department of Foreign Affairs placing the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh on Top 5 in rank overall among all Foreign Service Posts abroad as of April 18.


Saudia airline getting ready to operate on May 17

Saudia airline getting ready to operate on May 17
Saudi Arabia’s flagship carrier is getting ready to fly on May 17. (SPA)
Updated 12 April 2021

Saudia airline getting ready to operate on May 17

Saudia airline getting ready to operate on May 17
  • Saudia was ranked among the top 10 airlines worldwide for its health and safety measures and received the highest certification by APEX Health Safety in January

JEDDAH: The Kingdom’s flagship carrier is preparing for full-capacity operations ahead of the lift of the travel ban next month, with Saudis eager to safely return to traveling during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
Saudi Minister of Transport Saleh Al-Jasser chaired a meeting with the Saudia airline board of directors to discuss preparations for the return of international flights on May 17.
The date will mark the end of the suspension of international travel for Saudi citizens by land, air, and sea.
The minister expressed his thanks for the efforts made to safely continue domestic flights by limiting the spread of COVID-19.
Saudia was ranked among the top 10 airlines worldwide for its health and safety measures and received the highest certification by APEX Health Safety in January.
Saudis are feeling more comfortable with the idea of traveling abroad again.
Ismail Ayoub, 30, said he will travel as soon as the opportunity strikes, with Dubai being his first choice due to their high safety standards. “Safety is one factor, another reason is I have good contacts in Dubai and in the region, so this is an opportunity to reconnect with them,” Ayoub told Arab News.
“The closeness of Dubai to the Kingdom makes it very convenient as well,” he added.
Ayoub said he will travel to countries where tourism offerings follow the strict COVID-19 safety guidelines. “I would avoid countries with unmanaged crowds. I want to enjoy my trip while staying safe.”

Saudis are feeling more comfortable with the idea of traveling abroad again. (SPA)

Software engineer Alia Al-Sadat, 27, said she is glad to have the option to travel but would rather postpone her international flight plans until the global cases drop.
“I feel very safe in the Kingdom. I’m happy to simply travel between Jeddah and Riyadh, or even go and explore AlUla,” Al-Sadat told Arab News.
She highlighted that the travel restrictions were a good opportunity to explore the Kingdom.
“Many people do not know it, but Saudi Arabia has some spectacular destinations. This year made me want to explore places like Abha, Taif and of course Umluj,” she added.


Saudi authorities urge public to follow precautions to ensure safe Ramadan

Saudi authorities urge public to follow precautions to ensure safe Ramadan
Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly. (SPA)
Updated 12 April 2021

Saudi authorities urge public to follow precautions to ensure safe Ramadan

Saudi authorities urge public to follow precautions to ensure safe Ramadan
  • There are 8,360 active cases, 915 of them are critical

JEDDAH: With a few days to go before the start of Ramadan, Saudi health authorities are warning the Kingdom’s residents to remain vigilant and stick to safety precautions put in place to reduce the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
During a press conference on Sunday, Ministry of Health (MoH) spokesman Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly reminded residents of the importance of following the precautions.
“Last year’s Ramadan was unlike any other Ramadan that we have experienced,” he said, adding that visitors to mosques would need to follow set guidelines, such as bringing their own prayer mats, attending prayer on time, socially distancing and staying clear of overcrowding.
He also highlighted the importance of following precautions during family gatherings. “We are used to family gatherings during Ramadan — they are special and bring the family together — but we must limit the number of visitors in gatherings.”
On Saturday, the MoH announced it would be postponing second doses of COVID-19 vaccines in order to ensure more people receive their first dose.
“The challenges are a race against time. We want to ensure that the most vulnerable are prioritized and receive their first vaccine to gain immunity,” Al-Abd Al-Aly said, adding that cancelled slots would be rearranged automatically.
“The second dose acts as a booster to the immunity one develops after the first dose,” he said.

INNUMBERS

398,435 Total cases

383,321 Recoveries

6,754 Deaths

8,360 Active cases

A total of 799 new cases of COVID-19 were recorded in the Kingdom on Sunday, meaning 398,435 people in Saudi Arabia have now contracted the disease.
There are 8,360 active cases, 915 of them are critical.
In addition, 548 new recovered cases were announced, taking the total number of recoveries to 383,321. The Kingdom’s recovery rate is holding steady at 96.2 percent.
Seven new COVID-19 related deaths were reported, raising the death toll to 6,754.
Saudi Arabia has administered more than 6.25 million COVID-19 vaccine doses so far. A total of 58,897 PCR tests were conducted in the past 24 hours, raising the total number of tests conducted in the Kingdom to 15,797,442.
Elsewhere, 30,054 violations of precautionary and preventive measures were reported over the past week. The highest numbers of violations were in Riyadh (11,162), Makkah (5,883), and the Eastern Province (4,183). Jazan (155) and Najran (132) had the lowest number of reported violations.
The Ministry of Interior stressed that citizens and residents must continue to adhere to the preventive measures and instructions issued by the authorities for their own safety and the safety of fellow citizens and residents.


Hajj Ministry announce Ramadan guidelines for Umrah and prayers

Hajj Ministry announce Ramadan guidelines for Umrah and prayers
The ministry reminded people for the need to follow the preventive measures to ensure the safety, health and security of those visiting the two holy mosques. (SPA)
Updated 12 April 2021

Hajj Ministry announce Ramadan guidelines for Umrah and prayers

Hajj Ministry announce Ramadan guidelines for Umrah and prayers
  • Taraweeh, Qiyam prayers should not exceed 30 minutes in all mosques

JEDDAH: The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has set guidelines and protocols for issuing Umrah and prayer permits for the month of Ramadan. 
Vaccinations are at the top of the priority list as no worshippers are allowed into either Makkah’s Grand Mosque or Madinah’s Prophet’s Mosque without having received at least one dose of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine.
Permits will only be allowed through the Tawakkalna and Eatmarna apps, and will not be provided for unvaccinated individuals, as the latest Tawkkalna update has designated each category with a color code and barcode specific to their health status.
Unauthorized vehicles will not be allowed in the central region around Makkah, and visitors must arrive on time or risk losing their time slot.
Children will not be allowed to enter either mosques, nor the courtyards around the mosques.

HIGHLIGHT

Permits will only be allowed through the Tawakkalna and Eatmarna apps, and will not be provided for unvaccinated individuals, as the latest Tawkkalna update has designated each category with a color code and barcode specific to their health status.

The Ministry of Interior issued a warning that a SR10,000 ($26,671) fine will be issued to pilgrims wishing to perform Umrah without permits, and a SR1,000 fine for worshippers trying to enter the mosques without one.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Dawah and Guidance issued a statement saying that Taraweeh and Qiyam prayers should not exceed 30 minutes in all mosques in the Kingdom. This comes after King Salman issued a decision to permit Taraweeh prayers in the two holy mosques and reduce them to five tasleemat.
The ministry reminded people for the need to follow the preventive measures to ensure the safety, health and security of those visiting the two holy mosques.


Saudi rights body to support sexual harassment victims

Saudi rights body to support sexual harassment victims
Dr. Awwad bin Saleh Al-Awwad. (SPA)
Updated 11 April 2021

Saudi rights body to support sexual harassment victims

Saudi rights body to support sexual harassment victims
  • Psychological, educational, and legal consultations are provided to the beneficiaries in cooperation with a number of specialists at the HRC

JEDDAH: Dr. Awwad bin Saleh Al-Awwad, president of the Saudi Human Rights Commission (HRC), has launched a specialized group to support victims of sexual harassment and their families with psychological counseling and educational, social, and legal guidance with strict confidentiality.
The group will enhance protection for victims of harassment and raise awareness about its impact on individuals and society.
Al-Awwad said the launch is part of the measures and regulations that the Kingdom has adopted to protect and support victims of harassment, including the anti-harassment law, child protection system, and law on protection from abuse.
The group will address these effects to help victims overcome trauma, to ensure it does not occur again, and to inform families and the relevant authorities in the event of a new exposure to harassment.
The group is supervised by HRC board member Dr. Sarah bint Omar Al-Abdulkarim, in cooperation with consultant psychiatrist Dr. Meshal Al-Aqeel and Dr. Amal Bannunah, a professional adviser in protection and sex education expert. Psychological, educational, and legal consultations are provided to the beneficiaries in cooperation with a number of specialists at the HRC. 


Saudi Supreme Court: No evidence of Ramadan moon sighting

Saudi Supreme Court: No evidence of Ramadan moon sighting
Updated 12 April 2021

Saudi Supreme Court: No evidence of Ramadan moon sighting

Saudi Supreme Court: No evidence of Ramadan moon sighting
  • Supreme Court says it will hold another session on Monday evening

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s moon sighting committee said on Sunday that the crescent for the month of Ramadan could not be seen from the Tamir and Hawtat observatories in Sudair, due to the weather conditions. 
Following a meeting on Sunday, corresponding to Shaban 29, according to the Umm Al-Qura lunar calendar, the Supreme Court said that it had not received any evidence of the crescent sighting in the evening.
The Supreme Court said it would hold another session on Monday evening, and issue a decision on the start of Muslim fasting month.