Press Release
February 9, 2013


Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III, PDP Laban President, lauded today the Senate's ratification of the bicameral conference report on the amendments to the Overseas Absentee Voting Act which he had presented as chair of the Senate Committee on Electoral Reforms and People's Participation.

"Last Tuesday was a red-letter day for the over 13 million overseas Filipinos as the Senate's approval of the bicameral report means that all our hard work is close to bearing fruit with the eventual passage of the measure into law," said Pimentel.

Among the amendments is the removal of the provision of the OAV which requires Filipino immigrants and permanent residents of other countries to issue an affidavit declaring an intention to return to the Philippines after being registered as voters under the OAV.

Pimentel's committee had taken the position of various OFW groups and other stakeholders in public hearings and debates, as well as in submitted position papers on the proposed amendments to the OAV Act filed under Senate Bill 3312.

"Maybe not in this coming election in May, but once the OAV amendments take effect, overseas Filipinos may soon be able to register and vote using mail, whether postal or electronic, fax, and other secure online systems," said Pimentel.

Pimentel sponsored SB 3312 before the Senate plenary on November 5, 2012, saying the OAV has to be brought up to date because many of its provisions are to blame for the low turnout of OAV voters.

"In 2016, when Filipinos come together as one nation to decide on the next administration, one of our biggest legacies to voters around the world is an OAV law that offers flexibility in terms of new technologies," said Pimentel.

In his sponsorship speech, Pimentel said that requiring overseas Filipinos to go to Philippine embassies or consulates to register and then vote is untenable.

But with the amendments, he said that having 10 million voters on line an over 90-percent OAV turnout in 2016 is a distinct possibility. The Comelec is only targeting a one-million OFW turnout for the May 2013 mid-term elections.

Under the amended OAV Act, "the participation of overseas Filipinos in the election of national officials would be as easy as their turning on their computers and connecting to the Internet to register or to vote," said Pimentel.

"That is as opposed to maybe absenting themselves from work, in the case of OFWs, in order to go to our Philippine embassies and consulates designated as registration or voting centers."

The amended OAV Act would mandate the Comelec to put in place a system that would allow online registration and voting for the estimated 13 million overseas Filipinos remitting $20 billion a year.

Overseas Filipino groups such as the Center for Migrant Advocacy (CMA), International Coalition for Overseas Filipinos (ICOFVR), US Pinoys for Good Governance (USP4GG), Global Filipino Nation (GFN), Global Filipinos Australia (GFA), Global Filipinos Canada (GFC), National Federation of Filipino American Organizations (NaFFAA), Overseas Filipino Council International (OFCI), and Worldwide Filipino Alliance (WFA) have batted for the amendments.

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