OFW voters for 2013 polls near one million mark

By Manolo B. Jara

The number of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who registered to vote in the May 2013 elections has neared the one million mark, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

So far, the DFA said a total of 589,830 qualified OFWs enrolled in the country’s foreign diplomatic outposts to enable them to vote in the midterm 2013 polls less than eight months away. In the 2012 presidential elections won overwhelmingly by then opposition senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino, the DFA recorded 235,950, bringing to 919,498 the total number of OFW registrants, the DFA explained.

Both the DFA and the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said at the rate the OFWs were registering, the target of one million expatriate Filipino voters would be achieved before the deadline for their registration is to expire on Oct.30.

The Comelec has designated the foreign office as the lead agency in the registration of the estimated nine million OFWs through its diplomatic outposts like embassies and consulates. Officials have credited the increase in the number of OFW voters this year to the active participation of embassy and consulate staffers as well as representatives of non-government organisations and groups who encouraged them to go out and register.

However, the Comelec warned there would be no extension when the deadline is to end on Oct.30. At stake in the 2013 midterm elections are 12 senators who are to be elected nationally as well as those of provincial and local positions such as congressmen, governors, mayors and party-list group nominees.

Under the Philippine party-list system, the nominees elected to the House of Representatives are to promote and protect the interests of the country’s under-represented sectors especially OFWs, farmers, fishermen, vendors and retirees like teachers, soldiers and policemen.

However, the Comelec clarified that OFWs qualified to participate in the May 2013 polls are to vote only for candidates for senator and party-list representatives.

The DFA and the Comelec have launched a campaign called “Boto Nyo, Kinabukasan Namin” (Your Vote, Our Future) to encourage more OFWs to cast their ballots in the 2013 polls.