Press Release
September 2, 2011


Senator Franklin Drilon has told officials of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to find ways to increase the participation of overseas Filipinos in absentee voting (OAV) in preparation for the 2013 midterm elections, amid the tightening fiscal position of the government.

"Overseas voting is an important component of our democratic system in that it allows overseas Filipinos to participate in a political process, except that there has not been much response from overseas Filipinos," Drilon, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said.

According to Drilon, the actual number of voters that participated in the 2010 general elections totaled 153,323, which represented only 26% of the 589,830 registered absentee voters. A total of 224,884 Filipinos were included as new registrants and the OAV has been allocated P188 million in the 2010 elections.

"This is only equivalent to one congressional district. The cost per voter is P1,227.62," said Drilon.

One factor of the low voter turnout is the "mobility" of Filipino overseas who transfer to other locations, Comelec Commissioner Armando Velasco told the budget hearing.

Restrictions of a particular country for any political activity also affect overseas Filipinos' participation during the elections, he added.

Comelec officials led by chairman Sixto Brillantes told the committee that the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has transferred the P51.534 million OAV allocation initially proposed by the Comelec as part of their overall budget to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

The Comelec is asking for a reinstatement of the P51.534 million budget for OAV.

Drilon, however, said that unless the poll body will be able to correct the situation, the committee is not inclined to endorse such proposal.

Drilon also directed poll officials to submit to the committee a proposal on how to increase voter turnout of overseas Filipinos.

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