Press Release
June 18, 2015

Pimentel seeks amendment in local absentee voting law to include staff of national candidates, political parties, party-lists and election lawyers

Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel lll, President of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino Lakas ng Bayan (PDP Laban), today said the right of suffrage should be fully exercised by every citizen not disqualified by law to vote.

He said Senate Bill 2763 seeks to provide a system of absentee voting for qualified members of the electoral staff of national candidates and accredited national political parties and party-lists, and election lawyers.

Pimentel sought approval of the measure in a recent sponsorship speech at the Senate before Congress went into sine die last week, saying the "right to suffrage is the essence of democracy."

The Mindanao senator said the current law was enacted to increase participation by citizens who are otherwise unable to vote due to their respective circumstances, such as performing tasks and duties on election day.

"Local absentee voting or voting in absentia allows certain individuals to vote within a specific period before the date of the election," said Pimentel, who is also the chairman of the Senate committee on electoral reforms and people's participation.

Pimentel said in the 2013 polls, applicants for absentee voting were 18,612, but only 8,224 cast their votes who would have been otherwise disenfranchised were it not for the current law.

"While it may seem like a small number, but we all know that in every election, every vote counts," he said.

Under the present law, only government officials and employees, members of the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces, and media practitioners, including their technical and support staff, are entitled to avail of local absentee voting.

They have to be present on election day in places where they are not registered to vote in order to perform election duties, functions and services that are related to the conduct of elections.

Pimentel said the same factors are present in two other groups of voters that are yet to be granted the same right.

He said the system also provides that only positions that can be voted for in local absentee voting are president, vice-president, senators and party-lists.

Pimentel said the proposed law would give a national candidate 56 members of his or her staff to avail of the right to vote plus three election lawyers.

"This bill will not only ensure a higher voter turnout but, more importantly, promote greater involvement of the citizenry in the electoral process," he said.

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