MANILA, Philippines—The 238,000 overseas Filipino workers who were earlier removed from the official voters’ list by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) will be able to cast their ballots on May 13 after all.
Heeding the clamor of the OFWs that they be given more time to communicate their intention to vote, the Comelec issued a resolution extending the period of filing of the manifestation of intent to vote until the last day of voting for overseas Filipinos, or until May 13.
Comelec Chair Sixto Brillantes Jr. explained that the en banc decision, promulgated on Tuesday, virtually reinstated the 238,557 overseas Filipinos to the qualified voters list after their failure to meet the deadline to file their intent in December 2012.
“In effect, we are reinstating the list of those whom we deleted in a previous resolution… now, they can reactivate it by the act of coming out and voting,” he said.
In an earlier resolution, the Comelec en banc gave those who failed to vote in the past two elections until Dec. 21 last year to file their manifestation of intent to vote in the May 13 balloting in order to be retained in the National Registry of Overseas Absentee Voting (NROAV).
Under the law, failure to vote for two consecutive national elections is a basis for removal from the Comelec voters’ list.
But out of the 238,557 OFWs who were given the last chance to be retained in the NROAV, only 40 responded to the Comelec call.
According to Brillantes, after discussions with representatives of overseas Filipinos, the Comelec decided that showing up to vote on May 13 will be considered as “the act of activation so that those who want to participate in the elections will not be disenfranchised.”
The automatic reinstatement of these voters will bring to more than 900,000 the number of total Filipino absentee voters in the upcoming elections, a huge leap from 2010’s roughly 580,000 overseas voters.
Under the en banc resolution, the overseas voters who wish to cast their ballots will be required to present themselves at the post where they are registered and sign in the overseas voting form that will be provided.
The Comelec en banc also ordered the election body’s allocation committee to allot ballots equivalent to 20 percent of the registered voters in a post where postal voting is adopted.
“No additional allocation shall be made for posts adopting personal and automated voting considering that the ballots allocated for them is sufficient to cover the voter turnout,” it stated.