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Monday, June 17, 2024

Bill allowing OFWs to vote via Internet clears second reading

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A party-list lawmaker welcomed on Thursday the approval on second reading of a draft legislation that will allow Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) to register and vote for public officials via the Internet.

OFW Rep. Marissa Magsino thanked House Speaker Martin Romualdez for supporting House Bill (HB) 10178 or the proposed Overseas Electronic Registration and Voting Act that was passed during Wednesday’s plenary session.

Magsino said the bill seeks to expand the registration and voting methods available to OFWs by including internet or electronic registration and voting through available technologies as deemed appropriate by the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

She said the bills imminent enactment is a triumph for overseas voters, as it will provide them, particularly OFWs, an alternative, viable, convenient, and secure means to exercise their right of suffrage. This enables them to help shape the future of their families and their motherland.

“Half the battle is won and I consider this a victory for our overseas voters… We expect this will likewise boost the efforts of our colleagues in the Senate to pass the counterpart bill,” said Masgino.

In her sponsorship speech, Magsino underscored that low voter turnout among overseas voters remains a challenge. 

“The dilemma is attributable to the considerable physical distance between the overseas voters’ workplaces or residences and the location of the Posts in their host countries, to the itinerant character of their employment, as in the case of Filipino seafarers, and on other restrictive personal circumstances of the overseas voters while at work,” she said.

According to Comelec, of the 1.69 million registered overseas voters, including OFWs, only around 600,000 or 35.5 percent actually voted in the last 2022 National and Local Elections.

While the poll body has shown progress in implementing internet voting for the 2025 midterm elections, Magsino also stressed in her speech the necessity of a specific statutory basis to solidify and support Comelec’s initiatives.

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