The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is encouraging overseas Filipinos to register for overseas voting in the 2019 elections.
Overseas voters registration started in December 2016 and will end on September 30, 2018.
Comelec Commissioner Arthur Lim said the 2019 midterm elections "will prove to be very important, if not pivotal," because a plebiscite for constitutional amendments to pave way for federalism may be included.
Lim said many overseas voters felt apathetic about participating in the midterm elections since they can only cast votes for senators, unlike voters in the Philippines who can vote for senators, congressmen, and local officials.
"Mali po iyon. Ang May 2019 elections ay maaring maging halalan 'di lang para sa mga senador at local officials kung hindi para sa pagbabago, pag-overhaul ng Saligang Batas, kung halimbawa aaprubahan 'yan ng ating Kongreso."
(The May 2019 elections, aside from electing senators and local officials, may also include a plebiscite for constitutional changes, if Congress approves it.)
Comelec has yet to coordinate with Congress about the possibility of a plebiscite and wants to be prepared for it.
"Comelec will need at least 6 months lead time.. para maisama ang mga tanong sa balota sa pag amyenda ng Saligang Batas. Katulad ng federalismo. Tatanungin ang ating mga kababayan dito," Lim said.
"Bakit six months? Para po sa information campaign, para sa pag-imprenta ng mga official ballots," he added.
(Comelec will need at least 6 months lead time to include plebiscite questions in the ballots.)
His appeal came as the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Overseas Voting Secretariat and Comelec Office for Overseas Voting (OFOV) signed a memorandum of agreement with the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, Commission on Filipinos Overseas, and Maritime Industry Authority for partnership in the midterm elections.
This will allow agencies to "jointly establish pre-departure registration centers for departing overseas Filipinos".
Lim said they plan to increase overseas voter registration to 100 percent.
"Nag se-set tayo ng mataas na na target para sa ganun may hinahabol tayong numero," he said.
(We are setting a higher target so we have a goal.)
The government targets an additional 1,100,000 voters new overseas registrated voters.
There are about 5 million overseas Filipinos worldwide.
"Mahaba pa po ang ating tatahakin. Kasi ang policy dito ay lahat ng mga Pilipino kahit saan man siyang sulok ng mundo ay may pagkakataon bumoto," Lim said.
(We have a long way to go. We are following a policy that all Filipinos, wherever they are, will be given a chance to vote.)