A Filipino, even difficult and painful, will work in another country, for the sake of the welfare of their family, the education of their kids, and the improvement of their economic status. Does this mean an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) is abstaining from the right to vote?
What do they need to know about overseas absentee voting?
Do you know that this 2022 in the Philippines, weeks before the national election, Filipino Overseas Absentee Voters roll its voting casts started last April 10, 2022, and will run until May 9, 2022. In this High-Stakes Anticipated Election of 2022, as citizens, what do we need to know about?
Overseas Absentee Voting?
Overseas Absentee Voting or Republic Act 9189 or The Overseas Absentee Voting Act of 2003. As Stated in Commission on Election: Declaration of Policy – It is the prime duty of the State to provide a system of honest and orderly overseas absentee voting that upholds the secrecy and sanctity of the ballot. Towards this end, the State ensures equal opportunity to all qualified citizens of the Philippines abroad in the exercise of this fundamental right. The Commission on Election defines Overseas Absentee Voting, Republic Act 9189 as a system that allows Filipino Citizens residing or working abroad to participate in the Elections in the Philippines. It covers all the citizens in the Philippines at least 18 years old and above, qualified, and may vote for President, Vice President, Senators, and Party List. Overseas Absentee Voting was enacted on February 4, 2003, after an estimated 25% of the Filipino population working or living overseas at the time was found misrepresented in Elections. Overseas Absentee Voter refers to a citizen of the Philippines who is qualified to register and vote under this Act, not otherwise disqualified by a lawyer who is abroad on the day of Elections Furthermore, In 2013 the said Law Act 9189 was amended and revised as Republic Act No. 10590:
The Overseas Voting Act of 2013”
“AN ACT PROVIDING A SYSTEM OF OVERSEAS ABSENTEE VOTING BY QUALIFIED CITIZENS OF THE PHILIPPINES ABROAD, APPROPRIATING FUNDS THEREFOR, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.”
As the Election nears its point, Data from the Commission on Elections from the Office for Overseas Absentee Voting was released last April 8. There are a total of 1,697,215 registered Filipino voters around the world. A total of 786,997 voters from the Middle East, and Africa and 450, 282 voters from the Asia Pacific. America has 306,445 and Europe 153,491 voters. According to the Commission on Elections or COMELEC, 1,677,631 overseas voters are land-based while 19,584 are sea-based.
Overseas Absentee Voters are verified through the Certified List of Overseas Absentee Voters which refers to applicants that have been approved to vote by the Commission on Election; the said list is prepared by the committee on a country-to-country basis.
An application form for Overseas Absentee Voting on the COMELEC website (LAV Form 1) needs to accomplish and photocopy of a Philippine passport or dual citizen to be eligible for voting, proof of Philippine Citizenship from the Bureau of Immigration if Dual Citizen and for Seaman; copy of Seaman’s book for seafarers is needed. All must appear in the Consulate for biometrics and capturing. There are also advisories in each Embassy to assist all Filipinos around the world with corresponding instructions and schedule of Voting. Unfortunately For Filipino Workers Aspiring voters who were not able to register on the last registered leg of registration last October 14, 2021, will not be permitted to vote. Overseas Absentee Voters need to check their names on the lists before casting their vote. Voters will vote either by personal mode, which is done by personally going to vote in the Philippine embassy or consulates, while via postal mode voters will be receiving ballots via post. For the Postal Mode, the Philippines Post should mail the ballots to voters. Voters under this method must accomplish and send their ballots immediately to their respective consular so that they may reach the consular office by May 9. A total of 93 Philippine Diplomatic Post will hold overseas voting activities until May 9 depending if the post will use an automated or manual system. Also, voters are reminded to check first if their country is conducting postal mode or personal mode in voting.
Why is Overseas Absentee Voting important and how does it plays a big role in our Philippine National Election?
As Filipinos, it is our duly responsibility as a citizen to vote. Although the law does not require us to vote, VOTING is important to any democracy, we are part of the democratic process and our votes represent our ideas and interests by voting a representative as our chosen leaders. Overseas Absentee Voting plays a big part in Philippine History since Overseas Filipino workers took the stand to practice their rights to vote because they felt misrepresented in the last 2004 election. According to data consolidated from the Department of Foreign Affairs from 2004, we had 233,137 while 432,706 in 2016 voter turnout in the Presidential Bid, while the newly registered voters were 826,881 in 2016 compared to 2004 362,811 only. This just shows that Overseas Absentee Voters take an integral part in participating in the Election and practicing democracy as their rights. Although this year 2022 Election shows a decrease of participants in Overseas Absentee Voting which the COMELEC already anticipated due to the Pandemic crisis in which the Department of Health recorded 800,000 Overseas Filipino Workers who have returned home to rejoin their families. Still, Overseas Absentee Voting recognized that our Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) are our modern-day heroes in terms of setting a big impact on our Philippine Economy. They deserve to be heard and be given service in terms of exercising their right to vote.
We cannot conclude that the Overseas Filipino Workers approximately 1.7M voters have no impact or have only a small contribution to the Election. The Overseas Absentee Voting can swing a winning candidate for a new President, Vice President, Senators, and Party List. Thus, we owe the Overseas Filipino Workers, that the moment they leave our country, they remain as Filipinos and must be recognized for their rights to vote in Elections, whereas Filipinos leave our country each day to work abroad and sacrifice to leave their own family. To have affordable daily living, housing, and Overseas Filipino Workers’ investments and other businesses to cover their future ahead. To capacity, able to breathe in a home, living the dream they have for their family.
The Overseas Absentee Voting serves as a tie-team as one Filipino Nation participating and democratically exercising the right to be heard and to vote wisely in this 2022 Election. We uphold, imbibe, and embody ourselves as Filipinos, everywhere we are, and so, we partake in every event that is happening in our country, the Philippines. Each of us has a say and a right as Filipino citizens. Remember that your say, your vote is important in this 2022 election, the future of the next generation lies in our hands, vote wisely, Kabayan!
Written by Rowena Lansang