There is no truth that undocumented overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) are not qualified to register as overseas absentee voters, migrants’ rights group said.
“Being an undocumented or being an ‘illegal’ as to the status of a migrant worker’s stay in the host country is not one of the disqualifications mentioned by the law,” Migrante-Middle East John Leonard Monterona said, referring to the law ‘Providing for a System of Overseas Absentee Voting by Qualified Citizens Abroad’ or Republic Act 9189.
Monterona added RA 9189, enumerated 5 instances of disqualifications as stated in Section 5 of the said law, and that being an undocumented or ‘illegal’ is not set forth as a disqualification to be an overseas absentee voter. (Refer to RA 9189)
“Undocumented OFWs should need to bring with them their passport and present it to the PH embassy’s consular official in-charge in OAV registration. If in case, an undocumented OFW lost, or has no valid passport, or with passport but temporarily not available, the OFW should instead bring any IDs with him and present it to the embassy official in-charge in the registration.”
“The embassy official will issue a Certification that the undocumented OFW has been properly identified and he or she is not disqualified by law, and at least eighteen (18) years of age on the day of the election,” said Monterona in a statement to Manila Channel.
“We urge our fellow OFWs, undocumented or illegally staying in the host country, to register as an absentee voter. They are not disqualified by law,” Monterona said, adding that if they need assistance to register, his group is more than willing to assist them.
The group also called on undocumented OFWs to report to them if they will not be allowed to register by embassy officials.
“Let’s exercise our right of suffrage and elect capable and pro-OFW leaders,” Monterona added.
Already given “Granted” status by Comelec 2nd division, Migrante will be joining the sectoral partylist elections on May 2013.
There were around 16,000 to 18,000 undocumented OFWs in Saudi Arabia, while in the whole Middle East it would reach to around 28,000 to 30,000 out of the estimated 2-M OFWs working in the Middle East, according to Migrante.
As of end September 2012, there were more than 300,000 new OAV registrants that would add up to the 589,830 registered during the May 2010 elections.
The COMELEC and the DFA’s Overseas Absentee Voting Secretariat (OAVS) are aiming to have 1-M OAV voters tapping the help of various OFWs organizations and Filipino communities abroad for information and dissemination campaign.
The Overseas Absentee voter registration will end on October 31, 2012.