No Limitation

Influential overseas Filipino groups endorse candidates on basis of competence, integrity

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Overseas Filipino voters can positively change the quality of Filipino leaders and the quality of Philippine government. In general, overseas voters cannot be bought or coerced. They earn money through honest hard work and hired gun toting goons are not around to intimidate them to vote for certain candidates. As such, given the proper objective information about candidates, they will vote for the best candidates. They are in fact the best voters that money cannot buy.

Loida Nicolas Lewis CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

The US based US Pinoys for Good Governance (USP4GG) chaired by philanthropist Loida Nicolas Lewis  and the Global Filipino Diaspora Council (GFDC), a global organization of community leaders from several countries – are two of the most influential organizations  among Filipinos overseas. USP4GG has effectively lobbied with both the Philippine and US governments for policies, decisions and legislation that have benefited Filipinos everywhere. GFDC is recognized by the Philippine Commission on Filipinos Overseas as a global organization of Filipino community leaders from different countries whose goal is the betterment of life for Filipinos overseas and those in the Philippines.

The lawyers for both groups, Atty. Rodel Rodis and myself, appeared last March before the Comelec and successfully persuaded the Chairman and other Commissioners to reinstate some 239,000 overseas Filipino voters who were disenfranchised for failing to vote twice. Rodis argued that the failure was not out of apathy but because of circumstances beyond their control. I argued that while Congress gave the power to Comelec to remove voters who failed to consecutively vote twice, it also gave Comelec the power not to remove them. In other words, I pointed out that Comelec is not absolutely mandated to remove voters who failed to vote twice – but in fact is given the discretion to remove or not to remove – and suggested that common sense and wisdom factors compel the Comelec to exercise their discretion to reinstate the disenfranchised voters.

To their credit, Chairman Brilliantes and Commissioner Grace Padaca listened to our reasoning and in a subsequent Commissioners’ en banc meeting, reinstated 239,000 disenfranchised overseas voters. I respectfully urge Comelec to continue exercising its good discretion not to disenfranchise in the future overseas voters who fail to consecutively vote twice. They usually fail to vote not out of apathy but because the ballots did not reach them for some reason or another which is not their fault.

USP4GG and GFDC have drawn up a list of Senatorial candidates whom they have endorsed. The list serves as a voting guide for overseas Filipinos as well as for those in the Philippines. Using the same objective criteria, it’s probably not surprising that the candidates endorsed by both groups are a mirror image of the other except for the addition of Teddy Casino in the GFDC list. Both organizations are non-partisan and selections of the endorsed candidates were based on: competence, integrity and a track record of accomplishing observable good results that benefit people.

The Senatorial candidates endorsed by USP4GG and GFDC are listed below. (Not listed according to priority preference):

1. Loren Legarda 2. Alan Cayetano 3. Ramon Magsaysay Jr. 4. Edgardo “Sonny” Angara 5. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel 6. Risa Hontiveros 7. Bam Aquino 8. Grace Poe 9. Edward Hagedorn 10. Eddie Villanueva 11. Teddy Casiño (endorsed by GFDC only)

The Partylist endorsed by both USP4GG and GFDC is Akbayan Citizens Action Party.

According to the Philippine Commission on Filipinos overseas, about  11 million  Filipinos live and work abroad in 217 countries. Of these, only about 915,000 Filipinos overseas are registered to vote. Many more would have registered if there had been no condition  in the Overseas Absentee Voting Act (OAVA) which  required them to  sign an affidavit promising to return to the Philippines. If they do not sign the affidavit, they cannot register to vote. On the other hand, if they sign the affidavit, they are compelled to return to the Philippines within three years or face imprisonment.

As such, thousands have refused to register because of this oppressive condition. A typical comment among OFWs: “Sure, it’s important to vote, but  would I give up my right to stay and work abroad to support my family in just to vote. That would be stupid.”

How did such an onerous provision which clearly infringes on a citizen’s right to vote get included in the OAVA? A certain Congressman named Teodoro “Teddy Boy” Locsin insisted for it to be included. My understanding from those who followed the hearings on this legislation is that Locsin repeatedly questioned the patriotism and loyalty of overseas Filipinos for the simple reason that they left the Philippines to live and work abroad. He insisted that this anomalous condition be embedded in the OAVA.

Knowing the chilling effect of this required “promise to return” condition on potential overseas voters, the  US based US Pinoys for Good Governance (USP4GG) – embarked on two courses of action: File a petition to nullify this condition  in the Philippine Supreme Court – and also get the Philippine legislature to amend the OAVA to get rid of the offensive “promise to return”  condition. In both actions, the USP4GG prevailed. The Supreme Court decided in the case of “Nicolas et al v Comelec” that the condition does not apply to Filipinos who have dual citizenships. And just a few months ago, the Congress of the Philippines amended the OAVA where the draconian condition was removed and the word “absentee” was also removed from the title of the law: “We are not absent when it comes to helping the Philippines.” OAVA has now become Overseas Voting Act. (OVA).

President Aquino should sign this into law anytime now. While it’s too late for this new law to have any effects on the elections next week, it certainly will have an impact on the 2016 elections. With the removal of the offensive Locsin condition, more overseas Filipinos will register to vote.

Another reason why many overseas Filipinos are not able to register is because registrations have to be done at Philippine Consulates or Embassies. So many live and work in far flung areas such as in the Alaskan fisheries processing plants, distant oil fields in the Middle East, isolated towns in the US or else work in ships that are constantly at sea.

Even for many of those who have registered, some still cannot vote sometimes as the ballots for voting have not reached them because they have either changed addresses or else work as crewmen.

In order to maximize the number of overseas Filipinos registering and voting, there is little disagreement as to the need to make online registration and voting online. Hopefully, by next year, online registration and voting will already be installed.

While the present number of registered overseas Filipino voters is not yet overwhelming, their numbers will eventually increase due to the changed legislation removing the “promise to return” condition and online registration. Moreover,  in a very real sense,  their ability  to generate more votes eventually will be more obvious  when they  become more aware that they can influence their Philippine relatives to whom they send financial aid – to vote for certain candidates.  As such,  aside from the billions of dollars and other currencies overseas Filipinos send to the Philippines – which has improved and sustained the economic life of the country – they will also eventually positively change the quality of government leaders and government in the Philippines – for the good of all.

For OFWs like myself,  to see a better Philippines where thousands of talented bright Filipino children can develop to their full potentials as human beings instead of digging through dirty smelly garbage cans for scraps of food just to survive – is a dream that I hope will someday come true.

Email: laguatanlaw@gmail.com

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  • mfdo

    :D if they really wanted to promote good governance, none of the candidates should have qualified :D

  • WakWak

    VOTE TEDDY CASINO ——- PARA SA KARANIWANG TAO.

  • Hellomr

    USP4GG and GFDC has forgotten ti endorse Nancy Binay. Why because only competence and with integrety are being considered..

  • tagasampaloc

    3 in the list do not have the chance to win based on SWS surveys; Villanueva, Hagedorn and Casino.

    So voting for these three will help the candidates you loathe to win like Enrile, Honasan, Zubiri, Binay, Ejercito and others. Do we really want that?!

    Come on guys.

  • GMGUERRERO

    It is puzzling that Pres. Aquino has not signed the OAVA amendment upon presentation to him. Why is he delaying? It does not take all day to sign a piece of paper. Why doesn’t somebody ask him WHY? There are still several days to go before the election.

    • koolkid_inthehouse

      You’re dumb donkey. You have to read the whole provisions and think of the consequences before you sign. Peoples life is at stake.

  • Rodolfo Corneja

    i salute jac reno on his coment , a very enlightening ideas , tama ka kabayan ,lahat ng inindorso na yanm ay proven corrupt at walang nagawa na pagbabago sa pamamalakad ng ating gobyerno , ilang taun ang mga yan sa congreso hindi man lang naisip na bagohin ang systema ngating political system , arrest if not to erradicate the standard operating procedure , sop , of 20 percent for every goverment funded project , , everybody feast on that ,from the top down the line agencies , once the project take off the ground it lost 50 to 60 percent of the appropriated amount ,to this mudos operandi this where this famed pork barrel opoerates, that is how they spend our money , ofws members , so we must help and unite to change our political system , from presidential to parliamentary system there is a big chance we can achieve , meaningfull changes in our country ,

    y ,

  • 33Sam

    Unless these “influential” people really know what is going on behind the scenes, they are basically useless as pundits. I’ll bet they are even naive to what happened in the 2012 U.S. Presidential elections OR TO WHO AND WHAT SITS IN THE WHITE HOUSE. These days do not equate income and position with knowing esoteric information about the nature of things governmental and political. It is an oxymoron to create a USP4GG, if those “influential” people are not even aware of the tyranny, martial law state, THE CHEATING THAT WENT ON IN THE 2012 U.S.PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS USING ELECTRONIC VOTING MACHINES of the United States they are living in, expecting to project their imagined “sanctuary mentality” over to the Philippines when they WORK and live in a country set to be dismantled and put into a civil war by the same people they must have ignorantly voted into office. You must make a distinction to NOT PROPAGATE THE NORMALCY BIAS AND THE IDIOCRACY PREVALENT THESE DAYS BY SOCIAL ENGINEERING DESIGN!!!

    That these “influential” people have no clue to the reality of the creeping endemic political climate in their respective States, is a sign that not only does the Inquirer know what it is reporting about the “can’t be bought” qualifications of said people, neither do these people wishing to further good governance in the Philippines have a bead on the political climate in the Philippines unless they understand point blank that the same puppet masters that control the U.S. control the Philippines. The Overseas Absentee Voting Act is a good issue. Being “bought off” or not is not a good enough criteria for assigning credulity to people who may have good jobs and incomes, but are ASLEEP TO THE ACTUAL AGENDA GOING ON IN THE UNITED STATES AND THE PHILIPPINES AS WELL!

    REGARDING DUAL CITIZENSHIP:

    Philippine consulate policies in the U.S. seem to differ from the DFA and BOI in Manila. You can get dual citizenship in a U.S. based consulate, satisfying all the requirements, be given a Philippine passport that states you are a “Filipino” alot easier and quicker than in Manila, but if you try and get that Philippine passport renewed in Manila, the DFA will ask you to secure an “authentication of dual citizenship” from the U.S. based consulate!!! WHY??? If you call a U.S. based consulate to ask about this, you will get a puzzled question from the consulate as to why the DFA is asking for that document which the consulate doesn’t even know about and seems to have no such documents they are aware of to give.

    IT WOULD STAND TO REASON THAT IF YOU ACQUIRED DUAL CITIZENSHIP BY BEING GIVEN A PHILIPPINE PASSPORT WHICH CAN ONLY BE ACCOMPLISHED BY PROVIDING ALL THE REQUIRED SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS, PROOF THAT AT LEAST ONE OF YOUR PARENTS WAS A FILIPINO AT THE TIME OF YOUR BIRTH AND THAT THAT PARENT AFFIXED HIS/HER SIGNATURE ONTO YOUR APPLICATION FOR A PHILIPPINE PASSPORT, THAT YOU HAVE SATISFIED THE PROOF AND REQUIREMENTS THAT YOU IN FACT HAVE DUAL CITIZENSHIP AS WAS MANDATED BY THE PHILIPPINE GOVERNMENT. OTHERWISE YOU WOULD NOT BE GIVEN A PHILIPPINE PASSPORT!

    As usual the Filipino is still stuck in the mud when it comes to documents and red tape, having been poisoned by Spanish documentation policies that over react to its own documents, always needing an authentication for the authentication they already handed out. Why, if you were already given a passport at a Philippine Consulate in the U.S. do you need to prove the document you were given, ergo YOUR PHILIPPINE PASSPORT? Either this is just another sheep dIp gimmick to make you spend more money or someone within the DFA is countering the dual citizenship issue. WHICH IS IT?? And how many supporting documents do you need to give if the FINAL DOCUMENT THAT STATES YOU ARE A “FILIPINO” WAS SECURED AND AUTHORIZED BY A PHILIPPINE CONSULATE WAS ALREADY GIVEN TO YOU???

  • delpillar

    I am an OFW and out of the recommended candidates here, I voted only for the following’

    Ramon Magsaysay Jr.
    Risa Hontiveros
    Grace Poe
    Edward Hagedorn
    Eddie Villanueva
    Teddy Casiño

    I voted for 1 UNA candidate only.

    VOTE for whoever you think is GOOD… Do not be affected by the SURVEYS.

  • Aaron Ceradoy

    Akbayan for partylist? Geez they never got even a thousand votes combined in ALL OAVs since 2004… they were never there in important issues of OFWs … I can even count with just five fingers (or less) the countries where they are present (and not just a banner or flag) … the USP4GG and the GFDC need a serious reality check and a better grounding on what is really happening with OFWs

  • whyinthisworld

    Congrats, that’s my lawyer. I think this congressman locsin should have been consulted you first before his onerous stupid provision is included on OAVA. Many congressmen are keep on talking without considering the real facts of the matter that creat wounds to all concern.

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