MANILA, Philippines - Migrante-Middle East, a Filipino migrants' rights group, is urging the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and the Overseas Absentee Voting (OAV) Secretariat to conduct a massive information drive and education campaign abroad in preparation for the OAV registration.
In a statement, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator John Leonard Monterona expressed his doubt that the poll body and the OAV secretariat can start the registration of overseas voters on November 2, given the late training of its election officers.
Monterona added Comelec and various Philippine posts in the Middle East have not yet started an information drive and education campaign on the matter.
"While the Comelec and OAV Secretariat are saying in public that they are ready to commence the OAV registration abroad on November 2, we have noticed that there is no information drive yet by the various PH posts," Monterona said.
He added that an information drive is needed to raise awareness among overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) regarding the need to register or validate their previous registration.
The Comelec and the OAV Secretariat are aiming for one million absentee voters, but Monterona doubts they can achieve the goal, because "they dilly-dally in their information drive and education campaign activities."
Monterona said Comelec cannot reach their target precisely because of the lack of information and education drive.
There were 589,830 total absentee voters in the 2010 elections, while there were 504,124 in the 2007 elections.
"That is only a 14.5% increase of registered absentee voters, way behind the one-million target of Comelec," he said.
He is also certain that Comelec has a budget intended for dissemination of information on election laws, rules and regulations, and continuing voters' education including the OAV registration and certification.
"The intended budget for information and education campaign must be utilized to attain a higher number of registered absentee voters, one million or even more," he said.
Monterona suggested that Philippine officials abroad should consider setting up mobile registration centers as well as OAV registration through the Internet.