Press Release
January 22, 2010


Sen. Loren Legarda yesterday urged the Commission on Elections to extend the registration of Filipino voters in foreign countries "so as to extend to them the primary right of suffrage."

There are an estimated eight to ten million overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and emigrants, including dual citizens, abroad. Under Philippine election laws, they are all entitled to vote.

"The right to vote is the primary right of every Filipino citizen or dual citizen," Loren said. "It is the duty of the Comelec to provide them with the means to exercise that right as much as possible." Furthermore, according to Loren, the OFWs and Filipino emigrants are sending to the Philippines billions of dollars annually, keeping the Philippines afloat economically amidst a trouble sea of the global economic crisis.

"It is the least we can do to show our gratitude for their sacrifices and their continuing concern for our country despite their absence from our country," declared Loren. "The government must not be seen to be abandoning them by failure to protect their rights as citizens and saviors of our country."

Loren urged the Comelec to coordinate closely with the Department of Foreign Affairs in activating Philippine embassies, consulates and other offices in foreign countries to register Filipino citizens and dual citizens so that they can exercise their right of suffrage in the coming May 10 elections.

"The Comelec cannot just give excuses that it does not have enough time. It can undertake the registration in coordination with our foreign offices even while making preparations for the automated voting," Loren declared.

Earlier, Comelec said it would pilot automated polls in Hong Kong and Singapore. These two places registered the highest turnout of overseas voters' enlistment at 95,355 and 31,853, respectively.

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