by Pat Nabong, ABS-CBN News
CHICAGO — Feelings of contentment clash with despair, confusion and determination as Filipino Americans in Chicago move forward after the 2019 Philippine midterm elections.
“Ang reaksiyon ko diyan sa eleksyon sa pilipinas ay masasabi kong maganda ang kinalabasan…sa tingin ko, walang nangyaring dayaan sapagkat kagaya ng sinabi ko may mga, may mga nakabantay naman yan.”
But sitting just tables away at a food court, members of the Filipino American Human Rights Alliance felt completely different.
In front of the Philippine consulate downtown, protesters demanded transparency and expressed disgust at what they called the “disenfranchisement of overseas Filipino voters.”
Consulate representatives say they received 4,578 ballots out of 20,344 registered voters — most of whom are from the 16 states that they used to have jurisdiction over, before 4 states were transferred to the Houston consulate. The Chicago consulate still included votes from those four states in its tally. Officials there say they could not yet disclose the voting results.
Critics also lamented the lack of outreach to inform voters about important deadlines, adding that even the consulate’s phone has also been malfunctioning for several months now.
Isay Palma said her mom had called the consulate about registering for the elections but was told that the deadline had passed.
“A lot of times they’re maybe not as technologically aware maybe they don’t necessarily know where to go for these things and so just having access to resources is just always important for anyone anywhere.”
Despite the questions and hurdles, many said that this election sparked something in them.
The Filipino American Human Rights Alliance is now planning how to engage voters for the next presidential election. Others are mobilizing on the streets, saying that there are ways beyond the ballot to effect change.