900,000 Pinoys still needed to meet OAV goal

June 7, 2009

05/27/2009 | 05:42 PM

MANILA, Philippines – With only three months left before the overseas absentee voting (OAV) registration comes to a close, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has barely made a dent to meet its 1 million target.

As of May 27, only 85,784 overseas Filipinos registered to vote for the 2010 elections since registration opened last February, data e-mailed by the DFA’s OAV Secretariat to GMANews.TV showed.

With the OAV registration’s Aug. 31 deadline looming, the DFA needs at least 914,216 more registrants in the next three months to meet its target. To reach the million mark, the government needs at least 166,666 registrants every month until the OAV registration ends.

But even if the DFA meets the target, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) may still trim down the number of voters after a rigorous screening process. Just recently, the Comelec approved less than half of one percent of the targeted 1 million OAVs for the 2010 election. [See: Comelec approves only 4,751 of 1M targeted absentee voters]

Hong Kong still has the largest turnout of OAV registrants with 8,623 or an additional 2, 870 voters from last month’s 5,753. The Chinese province is home to more than 130,000 Filipinos, most of them working as domestic workers with two-year contracts.

Hong Kong is followed by Los Angeles (5,576), Dubai (4,245), Singapore (3, 807), London (3, 637), Toronto (2,951), New York (2, 638), Riyadh (2, 419), Washington (2, 253) and Brunei (2, 085).

With the deadline closing in, Ambassador Nestor Padalhin of the OAV Secretariat is intensifying the information drive to invite more Filipinos overseas to register.

Padalhin is tapping on radio and TV shows to promote OAV registration among migrants.

Earlier, Padalhin blamed the Filipinos’ infamous “hasta mañana” habit for the dismal number of registrants. [See: Pinoys’ ‘mañana’ habit blamed for poor OAV registration turnout]

Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Rafael Seguis, head of the DFA’s Special and Ocean Concerns, said he was hopeful that the figures would improve in the coming months as the Philippine government would heighten its campaign for the overseas voting.

“These figures will increase tremendously as the OAV registration activities in all Philippine Foreign Service Posts [FSPs] intensify in the coming days, weeks and months,” he said.

There are 8.7 million overseas Filipinos, according to the Commission on Filipinos Overseas, including 4.1 million contractual workers and about 900,000 undocumented migrants. – GMANews.TV


Aspiring OFWs being forced to pay OAV registration

February 11, 2009

02/11/2009 | 07:25 PM

MANILA, Philippines – The biggest migrants’ advocacy group in the country accused the Philippine government of milking outbound overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) by forcing them to register for the overseas absentee voting (OAV) prior to their departure.

Migrante International chairperson Gary Martinez told GMANews.TV on Wednesday that they have been receiving complaints from OFWs of the “additional burden” imposed by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

Citing reports reaching him, Martinez said aspiring OFWs who are applying for passports are asked to pay P75 for the OAV fee.

“It could reach up to P250 on weekends,” Martinez added.

In an earlier statement, Migrante International reiterated that under the Philippine Passport Act of 1996, “the government has the duty to issue passport or any travel document to any citizen of the Philippines or individual who complies with the requirement of this act.”

“Clearly, this government is twisting the thousands of Filipinos who wish to escape grinding poverty here in the country by finding jobs abroad by the arm with this questionable requirement,” Martinez added.

DFA spokesperson Bayani Mangibin denied that the OAV registration was being made a “prerequisite” for those applying for passports.

“We are just inviting them to exercise their right to register and vote, that’s all. But we cannot force them. That’s not our policy,” Mangibin told GMANews.TV.

Mangibin did not mention anything about the alleged fees.

As stated in Section 5 of the law, applicants for a Philippine passport are required to secure the following documents: duly accomplished application form and photographs of applicant; birth certificate; marriage certificate; naturalization certificate (for naturalized citizens); for minors, affidavit of consent from a parent; a copy of the court order of adoption for adopted persons and; travel authority for government employees.
Mangibin countered the allegations, stressing that some groups exaggerate details and misconstrue facts to cast blame on the government.

“Minsan ina-angguluhan na lang para lumabas nga na ganoon [Sometimes they cast a different light on the matter],” he added.

The DFA has formally launched on Wednesday the OAV registration booth for outbound Filipino workers and immigrants at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

Mangibin assured that the registration process would only take a few minutes and would not be an added burden to OFWs.

The OAV booth is located at the OFW lounge in NAIA and would be open until August 31. [Click here for additional information] – Mark Joseph Ubalde, GMANews.TV