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CBCP tells Comelec to use Filipino chaplaincies as polling centers abroad

The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has offered Filipino chaplaincies to be used as polling places for Filipinos working and living abroad.

Bishop Ruperto Santos, chairman of the CBCP's Episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itinerant Peoples (ECMI), said he made the suggestion because several overseas Filipino workers were not able to vote through the Overseas Absentee voting because polling places are too far from where they live or work.

Philippine embassies and consular offices are usually designated as polling centers for OFWs.

Santos added that aside from the location of the polling centers, OFWs also consider the high cost of travel to the embassies and consular offices.

"Most OFWs cannot vote because of distance and travel expenses. Polling precincts are embassies and consular offices, but [these] are in capital cities of those countries. The OFWs have to travel for hours and pay for fares,” he said.

The bishop said that he relayed the suggestion to Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista during the CBCP Plenary Assembly held in Cebu City last week.

He said he is hoping that Bautista will be open to the idea since the new Comelec chairman introduced the idea of putting up polling centers in shopping malls in Metro Manila.

The prelate said that the Comelec chief had promised to "take into consideration" his suggestion in the next elections.

The ECMI said that a Filipino chaplaincy is a church allotted by the diocese of different countries for pastoral and sacramental ministries of OFWs and a Filipino priest is assigned there.

The Comelec said that there are a total of 1,376,067 registered overseas voters for the May local and national elections.

The elections overseas will start on April 9 and will end on May 9. —ALG, GMA News