Good news for overseas voters: Reactivation period extended

Maria Aleta Nieva Nishimori, ABS-CBNnews.com

Ned Legaspi (center) of ABS-CBN Global with DFA Undersecretary Rafael Seguis and Comelec Commissioner Arthur Lim during the tripartite MOA signing. Photo by Jonathan Cellona for ABS-CBNnews.com

Comelec extends reactivation period to Dec. 10

MANILA – Good news for overseas Filipino voters who are up for deactivation for failing to vote in the last two consecutive elections: you can still vote in the 2016 election.

"Yesterday, the commission en banc adopted a resolution extending the period of reactivation for overseas voters only up to December 10, 2015," said Commissioner Arthur Lim, chairperson of the Comelec Office of the Overseas Voting Secretariat.

With the resolution, Lim explained that those whose names are on the deactivated list can simply opt for reactivation by expressing their intent to participate in the 2016 elections on or before the December 10 deadline.

"Ang ating layunin ay makaboto ang lahat. And, as much as possible, our principle is enfranchisement not disenfranchisement," Lim said.

Commissioner Arthur Lim, chairperson of the Comelec Office of the Overseas Voting Secretariat. Photo by Jonathan Cellona for ABS-CBNnews.com

Lim said deactivated voters remain as registered voters. However, they are not able to vote unless they are reactivated.

Recently, Filipino organizations around the world submitted a 5-page petition to the Comelec to not remove the registration records of 160,000 overseas Filipino voters who did not vote in two consecutive elections.

"A country like the Philippines should do everything to give a leeway for its citizens to participate in democratic exercises and not penalize those who failed to vote twice by depriving them of their suffrage rights," stated the group's petition letter signed by the Global Filipino Diaspora Council, US Pinoys for Good Governance, European Network of Filipino Diaspora, Middle East Network of Filipino Diaspora and other organizations.

The group likewise noted that in 2013, they faced the same problems when Comelec delisted around 230,000 overseas voters. But after the group's meeting with Comelec officials, those delisted were reinstated.

Comelec Spokesperson James Jimenez. Photo by Jonathan Cellona for ABS-CBNnews.com

Meanwhile, Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez clarified that the December 10 deadline is only for reactivation and not an extension of the registration process.

The deadline for overseas voting registration is on October 31, 2015.

How do they reactivate? Jimenez said registered voters just need to send the Comelec or the Office of the Filipino Overseas Voters an indication or manifestation of their intent to reactivate and to vote in 2016.

"It is a very simple process. They don't have to come in to do it. They just have to send us an email, a communication, a manifestation of their intent to vote in 2016 and we will reactivate them if they are in that list of people who will be deactivated for failure to vote," he said.

He added, "Ang ma-de-deactivate so far is more than 164,000. Ang dami niyan. Hindi lang sa US iyan," he said.

Lim said the total number of registered voters for the 2016 national elections is at 1.3 million. The Comelec hopes the number will go up by 1.5 million with a few more weeks to go before the Oct. 31 deadline and from those who will be reactivated on or before Dec. 10.

As of October 7, 2015, the Department of Foreign Affairs Overseas Voting Secretariat disclosed that there are now 712,938 new overseas voter registrants.

Lim admitted that the registration is just half of the story.

"The other half is voting. We are hopeful that those who registered will cast their votes.