Midterm elections: Lessons learned
During the May 2016 presidential elections, the overseas absentee voters’ turnout was at 31.45 percent, or 432,706 votes cast out of 1.37 million registered overseas voters. Over 1.8 million overseas Filipino voters have registered for the May 2019 midterm elections, and while the turnout is traditionally low during the midterm elections, we are hopeful social media can get people to vote.
There are many lessons we can learn from the delays that many embassies and posts not only in the US but other parts of the world have been encountering in the delivery of voting packets to the registered voters. There are also complaints coming from overseas voters about having to pay for postage costs in mailing back their ballots.
As I have mentioned in my previous column (https://www.philstar.com/opinion/2019/04/28/1913123/perils-overseas-absentee-voting), the process is also tedious and taxing for foreign service workers who have to perform election-related tasks on top of their regular consular duties and responsibilities.
We are optimistic that a more efficient overseas voting system will be forthcoming. We are looking at a new technology developed by a company based out of the East Coast to make voting more accessible as well as secure for overseas voters. The idea is based on a mobile/digital voting platform that will allow more overseas voters to participate. As soon as we see the potential – we will recommend it to the Comelec if it can be used for the next election.
Let’s face it, technology is now the way to go. As the number of voters continues to increase, the manual system of voting can become unfeasible – and hazardous to one’s health, like what happened in Indonesia where over 300 election workers have died from exhaustion and heart attacks due to the long and tedious work of manually counting ballots following the April 17 presidential and legislative elections. Over 2,000 have also fallen ill after helping administer the elections that has been described as one of the most complicated single-day elections in the world with around 192.8 million registered voters, with an estimated six million election workers involved in the process.
With the May 13 elections coming soon, candidates are making last-ditch efforts to capture the attention of the electorate. Recent surveys show that a number of candidates who are on the top 12 are those supportive of the Duterte administration. There are also a number of independent-minded candidates who are in the magic 12, which only goes to show a more informed voting public.
But clearly, there are many people who are appreciative of the economic reforms being implemented by the government, with affirmation coming from international institutions such as Standard & Poor’s that upgraded the Philippines’ credit rating to “BBB+” – the highest rating in the country’s history.
S&P also gave the country a stable outlook, citing a strong economic growth trajectory and its view that the Philippine economy will maintain its strong momentum over the medium term. “The rating is also supported by solid government fiscal accounts, low public indebtedness, and the economy’s sound external settings,” the debt watcher said.
The economy seems to be a major factor in the people’s decision, and the same thing seems to be true with the US as well. In the new CNN poll conducted by survey and market research firm SSRS, President Trump’s approval rating on the economy hit a new high with 56 percent of Americans saying he is doing a good job on the economy.
Like Manila, the political climate in Washington is getting hot with both Republicans and Democrats going full throttle for the November 2020 presidential election. Things will probably get even hotter in the next couple of months especially for Democrats with 20 potential candidates vying to be the Democratic nominee who will go head-to-head against President Trump in 2020.
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PAL getting close to becoming a 5-star airline
Philippine Airlines, the country’s flag carrier, continues to soar high as it moves closer to achieving its goal of becoming a 5-star premium airline by 2020, a major factor in attracting tourists.
Last October, Airlineratings.com – the world’s only airline safety and product rating website – awarded 7-stars to PAL, the highest safety rating it gives to airlines. PAL also received the 2019 Airline Excellence Award for the “Most Improved Airline” for its move to expand its global footprint with its innovative services using new fuel-efficient aircraft.
PAL is taking delivery of six new airplanes this year as part of its commitment to continue providing “excellent flying experience to its passengers,” with more new aircraft in the years to come. Aside from enhanced services that include high-speed inflight connectivity services on long-haul flights to the US, Canada and London, PAL is also upgrading to a more advanced system that offers smoother booking-to-boarding experience for passengers.
Undoubtedly, PAL also takes to heart the welfare of its employees, from pilots to flight and ground crew, maintenance and other personnel. Just recently, the flag carrier gave awards of recognition to its best employees as an affirmation of the company’s appreciation for a job well done and to encourage the entire PAL workforce to do their best in providing the best service to stakeholders.
We must congratulate PAL president Jimmy Bautista who has been on top of PAL’s modernization and expansion program with the objective of enhancing total passenger experience while achieving operational efficiency. As Jimmy said, “Every Filipino traveler, every tourist, every passenger deserves reliable quality service from the Philippines’ only global airline.”
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