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Absentee voting listing at NAIA, POEA

Posted on: February 24, 2009

http://globalnation.inquirer.net/news/breakingnews/view/20090203-187223/Absentee-voting-listing-at-NAIA-POEA

By Anna Valmero
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 20:01:00 02/03/2009

Filed Under: Overseas Employment, Politics, Eleksyon 2010, Elections

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections is planning to reopen pre-departure registration centers for overseas Filipino workers (OFW) at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport and Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) office, an official said.

The poll body, together with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the POEA, will set up the centers as part of efforts to increase the number of registered overseas absentee voters (OAV), said James Jimenez, Comelec spokesman.

“When you are talking of getting OFWs to register, the direct way to get to them is the DFA and POEA so the Comelec taps these agencies to provide OFWs information about the OAV registration process and encourage them to register, especially while they are here,” said Jimenez.

Jimenez said the NAIA booth will be located at the OFW pre-check in center, departure area NAIA Terminal 1. The POEA will provide a secured, 30-square meter booth on the ground floor, EDSA side of the Blas Ople Building. Both centers will open February 5 and registration will be from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The overseas absentee voting law mandates registration for OAVs from February 1 to August 31, the official said.

“The biggest challenge up to now is to get people to participate in the election process – which starts by registration. Like in the past, it has always been part of the Comelec strategy to allow departing Filipinos to register while they are still here so they are eased from the burden of going to the closest embassies when they are abroad,” said Jimenez.

In 2008, there is an average of 3,660 Filipino workers leaving for abroad daily, according to POEA records, so NAIA is a vital center for holding pre-departure registration for the purpose of overseas absentee voting, he said.

Jimenez said the number of registrants in the pre-departure areas has been erratic. But the poll body was “serious” in its campaign to get more Filipinos to register and vote, thus bringing the registration center closer to Filipinos workers leaving the country.

Each pre-departure registration center will have two Comelec representatives who will perform administrative work for registration. The Comelec will provide one data capturing machine (DCM) for each center to get the biometrics information of voters, while the DFA will provide two computers to be used for the registration and verification process.

In case of DCM malfunction, Jimenez said the Comelec technology group would immediately replace the unit using standby units at the national poll office.

To register as an absentee voter, personal appearance is required, said Jimenez.

“Under the law, registration by all, OAVs or not is by personal appearance. Seafarers are allowed to file applications at any post but they still have to register personally. Personal appearance is required because that is the only way the Comelec can validate the voter’s identity. Otherwise we won’t know who you are,” he explained.

He cited that Taiwan and the United States allowed registration by mail because both countries have “very strong address/registration system” not present in the Philippines.

Jimenez added that the Comelec has written the OAV registration process in the form of comics, which OFWs could get from Philippine embassies and consulates worldwide and read about the process of registration.

“I believe the people are going to give elections a try again come 2010 to see if it works and reflects their sentiment, making it a big challenge for the Comelec,” he said.

Requirements for OAV registration are:
• a valid Philippine passport. In the absence of a passport, a certification from the DFA that it has reviewed the appropriate documents of the applicant and found them sufficient to warrant the issuance of a passport, or that the applicant was a holder of a valid passport but was unable to produce it for a valid reason would be enough.
• a photocopy of the Seaman’s Book or any other pertinent document if a seafarer.
• the original or certified true copy of the Order or Approval of the application to retain or reacquire Filipino citizenship or Oath of Allegiance issued by the Post or Bureau of Immigration if a dual citizen.

The commission might require additional documents to establish the identity and qualification of the applicant.

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