Press Release
August 27, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today expressed dismay over the low turnout of absentee voting registrants among overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) particularly in the United States.

Pimentel said the dismal number of US-based Filipinos registering for absentee voting can be partly traced to certain misconceptions that discourage them from availing of this privilege.

He said expatriate Filipinos in the US are afraid of the requirement under the Absentee Voting Act that they should reestablish their residence in the Philippines before they can be eligible to vote in Philippine elections.

They are also apprehensive of being subjected to double taxation, the senator from Mindanao said.

Due to poor response from OFWs, the Commission on Elections announced that it has scaled down to only 120,000 to 130,000 the number of new registrants for absentee voting for the purpose of the 2007 elections. These will be added to the 360,000 absentee voters who had earlier registered and participated in the 2004 elections.

Pimentel said he had learned that in Los Angeles City, California, only 416 Filipinos signed up for absentee voting in 2004. In the ongoing registration for the 2007 elections, there were only 47 registrants so far.

He said the US-based Filipino immigrants are presumably not yet aware that the Supreme Court, in a recent ruling, scrapped the requirement of reestablishing residence for dual citizens.

They are afraid that if they go back to the Philippines and reestablish their residence, their status as US immigrants may be jeopardized. But I told them this requirement has already been removed by the Supreme Court in the case of dual citizens, the minority leader explained.

The Dual Citizenship Act, which took effect in 2005, allows those who have acquired foreign citizenship to regain their Filipino citizenship.

Pimentel said the second concern of the OFWs not only in the US but also in other countries is that they may find themselves being required to pay taxes both in foreign country where they are based and in the Philippines.

I explained to them that will not happen because there are existing bilateral agreements against double taxation between the Philippines and various countries where there are OFWs, he said.

Pimentel said that the income earned by OFWs abroad will no longer be subjected to tax by the Philippine government. But he said if they are maintaining businesses in the Philippines, that is the only time they will be required to pay income tax.

The opposition senator urged foreign affairs and election authorities to step up their information campaign on absentee voting among OFWs and to correct the misconceptions about this scheme which deter them from registering.

The Comelec has extended the deadline for registration of overseas absentee voters up to Sept. 30. Despite this, the Comelec said more than 90 percent of the estimated 8 million OFWs will not be able to participate in next years elections.

News Latest News Feed