Overseas voting rules improved

By Sheila Crisostomo, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jan 28 2014 02:54 AM | Updated as of Jan 28 2014 10:54 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Commission on Elections (Comelec) said yesterday that significant reforms have been instituted in the implementing guidelines of the Overseas Voting Act of 2013 or Republic Act 10590.

Comelec Commissioner Lucenito Tagle said that “salient features” of the law would be integrated in the pre-departure orientation seminars being conducted among overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) before leaving the country.

“We want our overseas Filipinos to know that while they are abroad, they could still exercise their right to vote. They should participate in this political exercise because it could affect them and their families here,” Tagle said in a telephone interview.

The implementing rules and regulations of the law also said that “all employment contracts processed and approved by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration shall state the right of migrant workers to exercise their constitutional right of suffrage.”

According to Tagle, the new law no longer allows OFWs to execute an “affidavit of intent to return” when they apply for registration as voters.

“That requirement has been a hindrance to our efforts to get overseas Filipinos to register. But this has already been dropped from the new law,” he added.

Under Republic Act 9189 or the Overseas Voting Act of 2003, which was amended by the new law, Filipino immigrants and permanent residents were required to declare that they would resume physical residence in the Philippines not later than three years from the approval of their voter’s registration.

“There are many other reforms that we are implementing and we hope that these could encourage our overseas Filipinos to register and to vote through absentee voting,” Tagle said.