MANILA -- The Commission on Elections (Comelec) assured on Tuesday that protecting the “integrity, credibility and transparency” of the 2025 election results will be its top priority as it prepares for the online voting for overseas Filipinos.
Comelec chairman George Erwin Garcia said the commission would be very particular in choosing the best system to use for the mid-term elections.
“Sigurado magkakaroon tayo ng procurement at may mga entities na magpaparticipate upang ipakita ang ganda ng kanilang teknolohiya, iyan ang pag-aaralan natin,” Garcia told ABS-CBN News
"More than anything else it is the question of integrity, question of credibility of the system,” he added.
Garcia is also confident that internet voting will increase the voter turnout overseas, noting that in the 2022 national elections, only 1.6 million of the more than 5 million overseas Filipinos had registered, from which only 39 percent or roughly 600,000 proceeded to vote.
“Siguro naman wala pang 5 minutes makakaboto sila at impossible na hindi sila mag-aavail ng right of suffrage through voting via internet,” he said.
“Almost sure na tataas iyan baka madoble ang bilang ng mga botante na magpaparehistro,” he added.
Ensuring the success of the internet voting for overseas Filipinos is also crucial, Garcia said, since it might lead to the eventual full use of this mode in the succeeding elections.
“Kung after 2025 ay mas pinatronize pala, na mas gusto ng mga Filipinos abroad halimbawa ang pinatupad natin ng 2025 at kakaunti lang ang nag-avail ng in person voting, siguro pwede na mawala ang dalawang modes at matira ang internet voting,” Garcia explained.
The Comelec chair was the keynote speaker in a forum organized by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Overseas Voting Secretariat on Tuesday, which tackled women and their participation in the overseas voting.
DFA Usec. Jesus Domingo stressed the importance of holding such a forum to recognize the 10th year of implementing the Republic Act 10590 or the Overseas Voting Act of 2013 and the 86 years of women’s right to suffrage in the Philippines.
Deputy Consul General Germinia Aguilar-Usudan in Hong Kong noted the importance of women’s participation in the elections, citing 2021 data of the Philippine Statistics Authority that 61 percent of the 1.83 million overseas Filipinos are women.
“Filipino women have increasing influence over the voting pattern of their families in the Philippines. They can strongly influence their families because of the assistance they provide through the remittances they sent,” Usudan said.
Jean Encinas-Franco from the UP-College of Social Sciences and Philosophy, for her part, presented that there are, however, some barriers to women’s participation in overseas voting such as their working condition, travel and commute time, mobility issues, among others.