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06/10/2011: COMELEC Officials Meet with the Filipino Community to Discuss Overseas Absentee Voting

 

COMELEC Officials Meet with the Filipino Community to Discuss Overseas Absentee Voting

Commissioners Lucenito Tagle and Christian Robert Lim of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) met with the Filipino American community on October 5, 2011 to discuss the Overseas Absentee Voting Registration and provide updates on preparations for the May 2013 National Elections.  The meeting was held at the Social Hall of the Philippine Center.

Consul General Marciano A. Paynor, Jr. remarked that at the Presidential elections held last year, 41,512 Filipinos registered for Overseas Absentee Voting in the US and 12,554 actually voted.  He cited the following numbers which clearly described the level of participation of Filipinos in the US during the 2010 elections:  the percentage of actual registrants versus potential registrants is 5.41%, the percentage of voters versus actual registrants is 30.24% and the percentage of voters versus potential registrants is 1.64%.

It was noted during the meeting that the target number of registrants for Overseas Absentee Voting worldwide is one million Filipinos.  Currently, the number of registrants is 351,273.

Both Commissioners recognized the factors negatively affecting voter registration:  requirement to execute Affidavit of Intent to Return; geographical location of voters; apathy; high mobility of overseas Filipinos; limited manpower of embassies and consulates; working conditions; insufficient information campaign; incorrect addresses provided by the voters; and lack of novelty.

Among the factors, the requirement to execute an Affidavit of Intent to Return is the most significant obstacle.

Rodel Rodis (US Pinoys for Good Governance/ USP4GG) explained that the 2006 Supreme Court decision to enfranchise dual citizens by removing the residence requirement should also extend to permanent residents under the principle of equal protection of the law.

The Commissioners responded that they encouraged concerned Filipinos to raise this issue with the Supreme Court so that a clear ruling could be obtained.

Victor Barrios (Global Filipino Nation) and Tony Villegas (USP4GG) recommended registering and voting via internet to save on costs and to address the challenges of high mobility of the Filipinos and the physical distance of the embassies and consulates.

The Commissioners agreed with these suggestions and said that they would present these suggestions at the next en-banc meeting of the Commissioners.

Joyce Diloy (Filipino Mental Health Initiative) asked the Commissioners on how the community could help and be updated on developments on Overseas Absentee Voting.

The Commissioners would like the Filipino community leaders to help in encouraging their friends and family members to register and vote.  They also announced that they will launch a campaign called “Sulong OAV,” using Facebook and other media.

Esther Chavez (Inquirer.net) also offered the use of the Philippine Daily Inquirer website to provide a link to the official website of COMELEC.  The Commissioners thanked Ms. Chavez for this offer.

The resumption of continuing registration for qualified Overseas Absentee Voters begins on October 31, 2011 and ends on October 31, 2012.  All citizens of the Philippines who intend to vote abroad and are at least eighteen (18) years of age may register.  Visit your nearest Philippine Embassy or Consulate and bring a copy of your Philippine passport OR dual citizenship Identification Certificate and Order of Approval to register.