DALY CITY, California - Out of an estimated four million Filipinos in the US, only about 100,000 kababayans registered to vote in the 2013 Philippine elections, while only about 14,000 actually cast their ballots.
Now that the registration for overseas absentee voting has begun for the 2016 presidential elections, some Filipinos in the San Francisco Bay Area shared their own reasons on whether or not they intend to be part of the Philippine Commission on Elections’ goal to register one million overseas Filipinos.
"I would, simply because we live here and it's our right to know," Daly City resident Judy Ting said.
Another Daly City resident, Rad Abarrientos added, "Yes, because President Noynoy Aquino is doing a pretty good job now and we need somebody to continue what he started."
In the past, other Pinoys in America have said they are too busy, too detached to care with what happens in the Philippines, especially when they feel the candidates there are corrupt.
Meantime, US Pinoys for Good Governance President Rodel Rodis said Filipino-Americans have been discouraged to vote in the past because of a provision on the OAV law that requires those who register to declare their intent to return to the Philippines within three years from registering or face fines and jail time.
"The provision systematically lowered the number of Filipinos who register to vote, not only because of fear of going to jail, but because it showed contempt for overseas Filipinos and if you weren’t respected then why would you bother to vote?" Rodis said.
Rodis said kababayans should no longer worry about that provision because it has since been removed.
"Finally that bill passed in February of last year but the president didn’t sign it until May after the May 13 elections. The law was still in effect for the May 13 elections that you could still go to jail for three years. So that is no longer the law, but that hasn't been publicized," he explained.
Another issue Rodis wants the Comelec to address is the difficulty for overseas Filipinos to vote based on the lack of voting locations.
"The other thing is we’ve been lobbying for the longest time for internet voting and that’s the one that will get Filipinos to really vote because it is really difficult to travel," Rodis said.
Rodis said he does not believe the Comelec will hit its goal of registering one million overseas Filipinos for the 2016 presidential elections.
"They set that as a goal but they don’t take the steps to meet that goal by doing the kind of education setting up conditions that will allow people to vote," Rodis said.