MANILA - The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is optimistic it can reach its target of one million registered Overseas Absentee Voters (OAV) by the October 31 deadline.
Out of 9 million overseas Filipinos, an estimated 500,000 of them have so far registered.
"It has almost breached 800,000 mark," DFA Undersecretary Jose Brillantes said on ANC Presents: Road to 2013. "In the last three months, there's been a big wave of registrants, so were confident we'll be able to reach one million,"
The statement comes despite the low voter turnout in 2010, or just 26% of the 500,000 OAV registrants.
Brillantes, who is chairman of the Overseas Absentee Voting Secretariat, admits that while the country's experience with OAV in the past three elections has not been promising, they are not losing heart.
"We have the law to contend with, the budget, but we are hoping to do something about it now," said Brillantes.
The DFA is now using a new campaign with the slogan "Your Vote is Our Future" to help drum-up OFW participation in the election.
"Hanggang hindi nararamdaman ng pulitika na malakas ang hatak ng overseas, palaging magkakaroon ng duda bakit natin ginagawa ito," added Comelec Spokesperson James Jimenez.
Improving absentee voting turnout
Ellen Sana, executive director of the Center for Migrant Advocacy, said the figure is a long cry from early attempts at getting the OAV to go mainstream. She added voter turnout depends largely on realities on the ground.
"Kung nasa Saudi ka, medyo mataas taas yung level of commitment mo para puntahan. Sasadyain mo yung embahada natin sa secured place. Mahirap yung transportation system, so expectedly yung voter turnout would be slower."
Sana said amending the Overseas Absentee Voting Law and removing discriminatory provisions in the measure could help boost the morale of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs). She said they want Comelec to be given authority to improve election processes.
"Aside from executive remedies na ginagawa nung Comelec and OAVs, kailangan amendments to the law. We are lobbying for Congress to give authority to Comelec to explore and adopt an effective system," Sana said.