By Roy Mabasa
Distance was not a problem for Africa-based Filipino design technician Adolfo Villanueva who endured a 63-kilometer journey just to cast his vote for the 2019 Senatorial and Party List Elections.
Villanueva was the first to vote when the Philippine Embassy in Nairobi opened its doors for overseas voting last week.
“I need to exercise my right to vote because it is the way I can shape the future of our nation. It is a privilege to be able to exercise overseas voting in Nairobi,” said Villanueva who works for Impresa Construction Maltauro, an Italian firm tasked to build the Konza (Silicon Savannah of Africa), located some 63 kilometers from Nairobi.
When he arrived at the Embassy, Villanueva witnessed the Special Board of Election Inspectors as they assembled the ballot box and showed that it was empty before sealing.
Under the overseas voting policy, the Embassy is assigned by the Commission on Election to use the Personal Mode of voting where voters have to personally appear at the Embassy to cast their ballots.
In Phnom Penh, 19-year-old first-time voter Jeriko Feliciano Enriquez III drove for five hours with his parents just to be able to exercise his right to vote.
The Enriquez family, who has been residing in Cambodia for almost 18 years, travelled from Siem Reap to the capital in time for the first day of overseas voting at the Sentro Rizal of the Philippine Embassy.
“I feel happy and proud to exercise my right to vote for the first time, knowing that I am making a difference in the future of the Philippines and Filipinos,” the young Enriquez told Embassy officials.
Enriquez is currently a second-year student at the American University of Phnom Penh taking up Bachelor of Arts in Law.
In a conversation with Embassy officials, Enriquez said he dreams of being a Philippine diplomat and assist Filipinos overseas as he fully understands the plight of Filipinos abroad.
At present, there are a total of 2,082 registered overseas Filipino voters in Cambodia.
Philippine Ambassador to Cambodia Christopher Montero said the Embassy strongly encourages all registered overseas Filipino voters to exercise their right to suffrage.