Rep. Climaco co-sponsors bill amending absentee voting law PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 17 February 2012 13:48

House Deputy Speaker Maria Isabelle “Beng” Climaco co-authored the proposed “Overseas Voting Act of 2012” which was recently approved by the House Committees on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms and Foreign Affairs.

The two House committees approved a substitute bill amending Republic Act 9189 or the Overseas Absentee Voting Act of 2003 to allow more overseas Filipinos worldwide to exercise their right to vote in Philippine elections.

The bill is a consolidation of House Bill 3201 authored by Reps. Walden Bello, Al Francis Bichara, Deputy Speaker Maria Isabelle Climaco, Rufus Rodriguez, Edcel Lagman, Rexlon Gatchalian, Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II, Arlene Bag-ao and Rodel M. Batocabe (Party-list, Ako Bicol); House Bill 3001 authored by Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo; and House Bill 3023 filed by Rep. Salvador Escudero III.

“The amendments will allow more Filipino overseas voters to not only vote for the presidential and midterm elections, but also in all national referenda and plebiscites. Also under the new measure, Filipinos with dual citizenship may no longer renounce their other allegiance when they decide to vote under the Overseas Voting Act of 2012. A pre-departure registration shall be conducted in accredited government agencies or facilities to be determined by the Commission on Elections,” the Deputy Speaker added.

Salient features of the bill include the deletion of the disqualifications provisions which require an immigrant or permanent resident to execute an affidavit upon registration declaring that he or she shall resume actual physical residence in the Philippines not later than three years from the approval of his or her registration.

The bill resolves the issue of shortened registration period, stringent voting requirements, limited voting facilities, limited days-off at work which prevented many from registering and cost considerations, among others. Under the bill, OFWs may file their application personally at any post or at designated registration centers in the Philippines approved by the Comelec and shall submit themselves for live capture of their biometrics.

“The bill provides for three modes of voting, namely: personal voting; voting by mail and by other means as may be allowed under Section 52(1) of Batas Pambansa Blg. 881, as amended or the Omnibus election Code. Comelec will be authorized to establish an Office for Overseas Voting (OOV) tasked specifically to oversee and supervise the implementation of the Overseas Voting Law. Another provision also specifies for the creation of the Department of Foreign Affairs Overseas Voting Secretariat (DFA-OVS) based at the DFA’s home office,” the Deputy Speaker said further. — Marvin Segura