CFO Supports Passage of the Amended Overseas Absentee Voting Act

The Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) supports the passage of Senate Bill 3312 or An Act Amending Republic Act No. 9189 otherwise known as The Overseas Absentee Voting (OAV) Act of 2003. The CFO is jubilant that the Amended OAV Act is getting the much needed support from the Senate, which is set to pass some game-changing amendments to the OAV Act. One of those is to make online voting for overseas Filipinos a reality.

The Amended OAV Act would empower the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to adopt automated election systems, whether paper-based, electronic-based or Internet-based technology. According to Senate Committee on Electoral Reforms and Peoples’ Participation Chairperson Aquilino “Koko” L. Pimentel III who sponsored the bill: “Voting may be done either personally or by mail or by any other means”, as may be determined by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC), mandated to facilitate “remote registration and elections.”

Pimentel also cited the urgent need to rework the original OAV Act passed in 2003 to remove the obstacles that stop many overseas Filipinos from registering and actually voting in Philippine embassies and consulates. The bill seeks to repeal Section 5(d) of the OAV Act which states than an immigrant or a permanent resident must execute upon registration an affidavit prepared by the Comelec declaring that he or she shall resume actual physical permanent residence in the Philippines not later than three years from approval of his or her registration.

In 2010, data from Comelec revealed that only 26 percent (153,323 out of 589,830) of registered OAV voters participated in the elections. The passage of the Amended OAV Act is expected to boost the turnout of overseas Filipinos registering to vote in the forthcoming national elections, especially for the 2016 presidential elections.

A similar bill (HB 6542) amending the OAV had been passed by the House of Representatives.

Besides the CFO, which is tasked to promote and uphold the interests of overseas Filipinos (OFs) and to preserve and strengthen ties with Filipino communities overseas, a number of organizations representing overseas Filipinos have clamored for the repeal of certain sections of the original OAV Act that hinder better participation during registration and election. Among these groups are the Center for Migrant Advocacy (CMA), the International Coalition for Overseas Filipinos (ICOFVR), the US Pinoys for Good Governance and the Global Filipino Diaspora Council.

For any inquiries about this press release, please contact the Commission on Filipinos Overseas, Office of the Secretary c/o Honeyleen Novilla telephone number: (632) 552-4708, email address: hnovilla@cfo.gov.ph and hnovilla.cfo@gmail.com. This is also available online at www.cfo.gov.ph.