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Home Sections Politics Reviving the Proposal for Automatic Registration as OAVs of Overseas Filipinos and OFWs with Valid Philippine Passports
Reviving the Proposal for Automatic Registration as OAVs of Overseas Filipinos and OFWs with Valid Philippine Passports PDF Print E-mail
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Sections - Politics
Written by Bobby M. Reyes   
Monday, 24 May 2010 10:43

 

Reviving the Proposal for Automatic Registration as Overseas-Absentee Voters (OAVs) of Overseas Filipinos and Overseas-Filipino Workers (OFWs) with Valid Philippine Passports

 

According to the Commission on Elections, a total 589,830 Filipinos registered for the month-long voting period that lasted from April 10 to May 10. This may sound like a considerable figure but with projections for Overseas-Filipino residents and workers reaching as high as 8.1-million, it is quite a letdown. – As posted by Ramon Ramirez

 

T his author reacted to the posting by Mon Ramirez in the Botomo@yahoogroups.com and commented, “The ruling politicians and their national political parties in the Philippines do not like Overseas Filipinos (OFs), especially Overseas-Filipino workers (OFWs), to be empowered politically and become the swing, if not the decisive, voters.

 

“I sent proposals to many Filipino policy-and-decision makers as early as November 2007 to make it easier for OFs and OFWs to become registered Overseas-Absentee Voters (OAVs).

 

“I proposed that any OF or OFW who has a valid Philippine passport be automatically registered as an OAV by letting the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) transmit electronically to the COMELEC or to the Philippine diplomatic posts (that the COMELEC has deputized to handle registration) the required BIOMETRICS (photograph, fingerprints and signature). After all, the DFA and its diplomatic outposts have the BIOMETRICS on file and it would not require an Albert Einstein to forward from the DFA computer to the COMELEC computer the BIOMETRICS.

 

The original proposal was for ‘the COMELEC to permit voter's registration by mail for Overseas Filipinos who have renewed their passport, complete with computer-generated photograph and personal data. And with the Department of Foreign Affairs forwarding to, or sharing the OFWs' and Overseas-Filipino's photo and personal data with, the COMELEC …’ as per a letter sent to President Arroyo, as stated in this article, More Proposals – From Voter’s Registration by Mail to Party-List Solons for OFWs – Sent to PGMA 

 

“How many OFs and OFWs would drive more-than 100 miles on a working day to register personally at a Philippine Consulate General (PCG) to register as an OAV? Like what I did when I drove in 2009 my 83-year-old mother from Laguna Niguel in Orange County to the PCG in Los Angeles (a one-way distance of some 62 miles) to apply for dual citizenship and register at the same time as an OAV? And I live some 45 miles from my mother's residence.

 

“So, Fellow Botomites, please join us in lobbying the Philippine Congress, starting in July 2010, to pass a bill mandating the automatic registration of any OF or OFW as an OAV if he or she has a valid Philippine passport. And also for any qualified OF or OFW to file a Certificate of Candidacy or the registration of a Party List by registered mail, with the document properly authenticated by a Filipino diplomat or notarized by a Philippine diplomatic outpost.”

 

Feedback from the Global Filipino Nation

 

V ictor S. Barrios in turn reacted to my posting by commenting that the “Global Filipino Nation (GFN), in collaboration with other groups and with the technical support from Ernie del Rosario, has been lobbying Congress on Internet Voter Registration and Voting. The efforts culminated in Senate Bill #3565, which, inter alia, would authorize Internet Voter Registration and Voting. Our combined efforts will make the goal of making voter registration and voting an eminently easy task a reality.”

 

This author e-mailed back Mr. Barrios and said:

 

“1.0    RE: Internet Registration and Voting. There will be more objections to this mode of OAV registration. On the other hand, our proposal (automatic registration as OAV for the Overseas Filipinos and OFWs who possess a valid Philippine passport) makes more sense, entails less work and affords more protection against e-fraud and e-abuse, especially in view of the ‘electronic-Dagdag-Bawas’ that supposedly tainted the May 10, 2010, local and national elections. Please read further additional explanations in my reply (as posted in the Botomo) to Jess Guim of New York, which is herewith attached.

 

        “1.1    The automatic registration as AOV of Philippine passport holders will mean immediate clout of the Overseas Filipinos, as we, the OFWs, exceed 3.0-million in number. Almost all of the OFWs carry valid Philippine passports.

 

                “1.1.1    What we should lobby before the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is to allow renewal of Philippine passports by mail, as it is being done in the United States and other industrialized countries. After all, the DFA computers have the passport holders' BIOMETRICS in their database.

 

        “1.2    Perhaps Internet can be used in downloading forms (from the COMELEC website) for certificates of candidacy, registration of party lists, change in address and other minor corrections. Even the United States does not allow Internet voting, as the process is subject to too-many flaws, from hacking to tampering of voters' lists.

 

“2.0    RE: Combining Our Efforts. As I told your wife, Ms. Aida Barrios, during the recent ‘Miting de Avance’ of the Balitang America program of the ABS-CBN, we are willing to work with the Global Filipino Nation, especially in Southern CA, which is the home to the largest Overseas-Filipino community. Yes, we are willing to throw our support to the GFN, so that you can have the necessary clout to lobby the Philippine Congress for the real political empowerment of the Overseas Filipinos and OFWs. We do not have to reinvent the wheel and form our own Southern CA-based ‘Overseas Philippine Nation.’ We can let the GFN speak on behalf of our Southern CA-based coalition.

 

=====================

In a message dated 5/22/2010 4:46:50 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time, MEDIABCLA@aol.com writes:

 

Dear Jess:

 

Under my proposal, the registration as an OAV is mandatory provided the OAV has a valid Philippine passport. But the OAVoter has the absolute right to throw the absentee ballot (that he or she receives by mail from the COMELEC) into the thrash can and decide not to cast his or her vote for any reason at all.

 

RE: OAV Online registration. It will not work because the required BIOMETRICS (photo, signatures and thumbprints) have to be taken under the supervision of a Philippine-government office. It will be easy to send fake BIOMETRICS online.

 

FYI.

 

Lolo Bobby M. Reyes

 

In a message dated 5/22/2010 4:02:06 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time, Jess Guim writes:

 

“Kabayang Bobby:

 

Voting is voluntary will by a citizen.  So, we can't enforce automatic absentee voter registration.

 

“However, we could enforce OAV registration online, just like how we pay our credit card bills online. Online registration is probably the best approach for the Philippine government to have more OAV registrants. It's fast. It's easy. It's massive.”

 

The “One-Filipino Vote” Advocacy in the U.K.

 

T his writer contacted also for support the “One Filipino Vote,” which bills itself the “The Gateway to Political Consciousness.” It is headquartered at 87 Stainsby Road, London E14 6JS, United Kingdom.  (www.onefilipinovote.org)  

 

Here is the reply of the “One Filipino Vote” organization:

 

QUOTE.

24 May 2010

 

Greetings from London!

 

I have received your e-mail and carefully read all of the correspondence you have made with other Filipinos in the United States regarding electoral reform on the Overseas Absentee Voting system. First, I would like to thank you for getting in touch with me and for showing your support towards OneFilipinoVote.org.

 

The right of suffrage is a democratic right we should advocate to all of our kababayans all over the world. Albeit important, this right, in its entirety, should be exercised out of a citizen’s own free will. Therefore, if this is the case, automatic registration does not meet that intention. In regard to Internet registration, issues regarding lack of international convention on accessing government services through online platforms and its security make it hard for the DFA to implement such policy.

 

Countries might challenge our embassies and consulates because of the issue regarding consular and diplomatic jurisdiction. We at ONE FILIPINO VOTE believe that efforts to strengthen the Overseas Absentee Voting system must comply with the constraints of the bureaucracy imposed by the Philippine government. It is important to lead by example and that by doing this approach, government policies would be deemed inefficient and ineffective if civic organisations can facilitate a much more robust and sound program in registering Filipinos based abroad, without changing any constraints imposed by the system.

 

Our last news release involves our preliminary recommendations on how to make the current system more efficient and more practical. Also, we have expressed our views regarding the lack of participation from the majority of Filipino community associations and organisations all over the world. Because of this, ONE FILIPINO VOTE will continue in advocating for a stronger campaign on the OAV system. At the moment, we are in the process of creating an implementation policy to make registration easier for Filipinos living in the UK and Ireland. Also, we are growing our network of Filipino academics and researchers to use as our resource for policy research. Next month, we are joining the OFW for Good Governance convention led by Wally Cruz and Loida Nicolas–Lewis in Manila so if you are coming, let me know.

 

Regarding your request for ONE FILIPINO VOTE’s participation and inclusion in your proposal for automatic registration of Filipinos for the Overseas Absentee Voting system, after careful consideration, the proposal does not meet our intentions for electoral reform and does not coincide with the group’s initiatives in the long-term. In spite of this, I will be happy if you can keep in touch and inform us here in the UK of any initiatives conducted by your team at MabuhayRadio. If you have any questions whatsoever, don’t hesitate to e-mail me at mark.wolfisz@onefilipinovote.org. It would be great to meet you if I ever get to be back in California. Keep working on helping the Filipino. We are lucky to have kababayans who are as dedicated as you.

 

Mabuhay po kayo Mr Reyes at maraming salamat!

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Mark Wolfisz

UNQUOTE.

 

F or more background materials on the AOV-registration lobby (and other matters involving political empowerment of the Overseas-Filipino communities) initiated by this author with the Filipino decision-and-policy makers, please access this hyperlink:

 

More Proposals – From Voter’s Registration by Mail to Party-List Solons for OFWs – Sent to PGMA

 

 



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Last Updated on Monday, 24 May 2010 21:29
 
Comments (3)
Thanks, Mr. Bobby Reyes for your feedback.

Security is indeed a priority concern. As explained during Senate Committee hearings in SB 3665, at least two security measures will be adopted:

1. the use of the unique Philippine passport number; and

2. the use of biometrics, especially voice biometrics as part of the registration and voting processes.

By all means, all Filipino organizations, groups and individuals should collaborate in efforts that promote common goals. We do appreciate your confidence in our initiatives, believing, as we do, that all stakeholders should have ownership of action items.

Regards.

Vic Barrios
2 Wednesday, 26 May 2010 07:27
Kabayang Bobby:

Bobby Reyes wrote: "But the OAVoter has the absolute right to throw the absentee ballot (that he or she receives by mail from the COMELEC) into the thrash can and decide not to cast his or her vote for any reason at all."


You have the point here. You're right. How about if we make an optional online voting, instead of traveling to certain place to cast vote?


Jess
3 Wednesday, 26 May 2010 07:30
This tracks the very solution I have been crying about for so long but with safeguards necessary to tighten the security like voice biometrics and strong cryptography, etc. Passport holders already have their necessary biometrics data at DFA. By sharing these data with Comelec then adding voice biometrics, online OAV registration can be done securely. I already have this solution looked into by JCOC, Comelec, CAC, etc., long before this 2010 messy elections. I don't know whether they even looked at it.

Ernie (as originally sent to Vic Barrios)

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