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July 27, 2017

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Philippines urges expats to register for absentee voting

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and Commission on Elections (Comelec) in Manila are urging Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) around the world to register as Overseas Absentee Voters (OAVs) before the deadline on Oct. 31.

"No extension. Once we extend everybody will ask for an extension," Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes III said during the interview.

To date, 839,221 Filipinos overseas are already registered for the upcoming senatorial and party-list election in May 2013. That number includes OAVs registered earlier in the 2010 national and local elections numbering 589,830.

"Compared to 2010, when there was a presidential election ... (there were many) who registered for overseas absentee voting. This year wee already surpassed the 2010 figures, which means the Comelec and DFA are doing something right in the sense that we have gathered more positive reactions on the part of our Overseas Filipino Workers to respond to the call to register and vote for the incoming 2013 senatorial elections," DFA Under Secretary Jose Brilliantes said.

The new registrants number 249,391, higher than the 235,950 in 2010. The top five posts in terms of registrants are the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) with 59,473; Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), 38,447; offices in the Middle East and Africas, 36,296; North and Latin America, 29,299; and Europe at 27,002.

Newly registered OAVs in Taiwan number 1,667, with those registered in Kaohsiung at 924; Taipei, 726; and Taichung, 17.

"The MECO registration process wasn't difficult. It took me less than 10 minutes to finish everything," a Filipino information officer of an international organization based in Taiwan said of his experience during his registration at the Manila Economic Cultural Office (MECO).

The DFA, Comelec and OAV Summit Group are aiming for 1 million overseas registered voters by the end of October 2012. The OAV Summit Group is composed of various civil society groups that are committed to the political empowerment of Filipino migrant workers through the ballot process. These include Ople Policy Institute and Training Center, Migrant NGO Forum, Philippine Migrants Rights Watch, Filipino Migrant Workers Group, Center for Migrant Advocacy and ICOFVR-Hongkong.

"We believe that the right of every overseas worker to register and vote is sacred, and all efforts must be undertaken to facilitate a more inclusive and convenient process of registration and voting given the physical and financial hurdles that an OFW must face to be able to go to the nearest embassy or consulate in order to exercise his or her right of suffrage," OAV Summit Group said.

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