BY RAYMOND CALBAY
Election season in the Philippines is fast approaching once again. Even if you live or work abroad, you can still cast your vote to elect a new generation of government leaders. The Absentee Voting Act ensures that overseas Filipinos can practice their right to vote even if they're out of the country. Philippine embassies and foreign offices are tasked to ensure an efficient process to facilitate absentee votes.
You're qualified to be an absentee voter so long as your Philippine citizenship is in good standing, and if you haven't been convicted of any crime that would forfeit your right to vote. Here's what you need to do to register:
- Check for registration schedules. For the 2013 elections, the deadline is October 31, 2012.
- Go to a Philippine embassy or designated registration venue (church, duty-free outlet, etc.) nearest to you.
- Present the following documents:
- Valid passport
- Order of Approval (for those with dual citizenship)
- Seaman's book (for seafarers)
- Submit an accomplished registration form (you can download it in advance).
- Have your fingerprints scanned and your photo taken.
- Confirm if your application has been approved. The Commission on Elections website publishes an official list at least six months before the election.
In the upcoming 2013 national elections, you can elect the following officials: 12 senators, district/party-list representatives in Congress, and local province and city officials. Make sure that you cast your vote come election day! Less than 10 percent of the 10 million overseas Filipinos have registered as absentee voters since 2004, and a lot less actually show up on election day.
As among the country's top income earners, overseas Filipinos should benefit from their hard work abroad by coming home to a corruption-free government, financially stable economy, and better quality social services. So register now - your single vote is a move forward to a better future for the Philippines.