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MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) may now register as absentee voters for the 2016 national elections through overseas voter registration centers in the country before they head to their destinations abroad.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec), together with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), launched the Overseas Voter Registration Center at the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) office in Intramuros, Manila, on Wednesday, October 1.
“Bago sila umalis, ‘mahuhuli’ na natin sila [para magpa-rehistro] (Before they leave, we could ‘catch’ them to register for the 2016 polls),” Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr said.
DFA Undersecretary Rafael Seguis said the center would help faciliate the registration of overseas absentee voters (OAV) for the 2016 polls.
“Kung doon pa sila magre-register sa kung saan sila pupunta, medyo malayo ang ating embassies doon (If they would register in their respective destinations, the embassies and foreign posts there may be far from where they would be working),” noted Seguis.
He said that while they are still here in the country, “during or after their trainings at OWWA, they may already register.”
Vice President Jejomar Binay, the Presidential Adviser on OFW Concerns, and Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr led the ribbon-cutting ceremony on Wednesday, but Binay left soon after witnessing the registration of an overseas voter.
2 million overseas voters in 2016
Rhona Sorro of Mandaluyong City took the opportunity on Wednesday to register at the OWWA office as an absentee voter before she flies to Qatar to work as a caregiver.
“Para hindi na po kami ma-hassle abroad, at para po makaboto kami sa 2016 (So that it would not be a hassle for us abroad, and so that we could vote in 2016),” Sorro said.
Comelec hopes to have two million overseas absentee voters for the 2016 polls. “From the 900,000 that we have now [after the 2013 midterm polls], we target to double that number in 2016,” Brillantes said.
According to Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez, overseas voter registration centers are also set up in the following areas:
- Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) “Balik Manggagawa” Center
- OWWA Pre-departure Orientation Seminar (PDOS) Center
- Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO)
- Comelec Office for Overseas Voting (OFOV)
- DFA Consular Office
Soon, registration booths will be opened at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminals 1, 2, and 3, said Jimenez.
The overseas voter registration centers are part of Comelec’s efforts to increase OAV participation in the conduct of elections. The poll body is also pushing for Internet voting for OAVs on election day.
This developed despite the moved of the Department of Budget and Management to slash the Comelec’s 2015 overseas voting funds. The DBM had clarified that the poll body could use its savings for the purpose.
Voter’s registration for the 2016 national and local elections is ongoing until October 31, 2015. – Rappler.com