Aside from writing regular blogs online, I also write for one of the leading tabloids of our country that is also being sold and distributed in other countries with high population of overseas Filipinos such as Hong Kong and the Middle East. More often than not, I receive daily text messages and emails from these overseas Filipinos asking how they can also play an active role in promoting good governance and ethical leadership in our country. Here are some concrete ways that Filipinos working or living abroad can make a difference in the coming 2013 elections.
1.) Encourage your families especially your children to register to vote for the coming elections.
In a youth leadership seminar I recently gave in Batangas, I was surprised to see that more than half of the college students who attended have one or both parents working overseas. Sadly, many of these college students who are already eligible to vote haven’t taken the time to register for the upcoming 2013 elections. Now that many schools are already on semestral break and with the deadline for registration already on October 31, parents of these students may want to remind them to take the time to visit their local Commission on Elections (COMELEC) office to register. Voters registration forms are readily downloadable at the official COMELEC website which is http://www.comelec.gov.ph
2.) Register to be an Overseas Absentee Voter (OAV)
Filipinos who are currently based overseas can actually vote for national positions such as our Senators and Party-List Representatives. Like the on-going registration process, the deadline for the filing of application to be an Overseas Absentee Voter is already on October 31. There are currently more than 10 Million Filipinos who are based in different countries all over the world. The difference between the 12th placer and the 13th placer in the last Senatorial elections was just a little more than 500,000 votes which goes to show that even if only 10% of these overseas Filipinos decide to vote then they can make a difference whether one candidate will make it to the Senate or not. Imagine the impact if one candidate can at least get 50% of the overseas Filipinos to support him or her then that candidate will have enough votes to more or less be assured of a seat in the Senate. In the last impeachment trial of former Chief Justice Renato Corona, we saw how important it is for us to have credible and upright leaders in the Senate who will always place the common good above their own self-interests. Visit or call your Philippine embassy or consulate to ask what are the requirements and schedules that you need to know to be able to apply as an OAV.
3.) Support and campaign for effective, ethical and empowering leaders
Millions of Filipino families are currently dependent on the earnings and remittances of overseas Filipinos. This is also an opportunity for overseas Filipinos to influence their families’ decision on which candidate to support and vote for in the coming elections. The advent of social media has not only made information about the different candidates easily accessible to Filipinos worldwide but it also gives them a clear platform that they can use to express their views on particular issues and candidates. Now, even a Filipino working in Kenya can easily go to Facebook and Twitter to express his or her support or disgust for a particular candidate. Aside from this, overseas Filipinos for as long as they have retained their Filipino citizenship can donate financially to help fund the campaign of reform candidates who may not have as much resources compared to their opponents from well-entrenched political dynasties. If we do not take a more active role in helping and campaigning for good candidates to win then we will just wake up one day and realize that our country is already being run by crooks and corrupt officials that have made our government their private business enterprise.
As the famous saying goes, “The only way for evil to prevail is if good men or women choose to do nothing.” Many of us have expressed our disgust for epals and political dynasties that have mushroomed in almost all parts of the country but the only way that we can defeat them is if we actively participate in the upcoming 2013 elections to ensure that they no longer get elected into power. Complaining and criticizing are no longer enough, if we want to see real change and development in our nation, this change has to start with each one of us.
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Harvey S. Keh is Director for Youth Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship at the Ateneo de Manila University-School of Government and is also the Lead Convenor of the Kaya Natin! Movement for Good Governance and Ethical Leadership.