Only 1.4 million of the estimated 8 million to 9 million overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) have registered as absentee voters, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said Wednesday.
Comelec Commissioner Arthur Lim said the biggest number of registrants for overseas absentee voting (OAV) came from the Middle East, with 300,000 OFWs signing up to vote, followed by the United States with 200,000.
Some 105,000 migrant workers, meanwhile, registered as absentee voters in Hong Kong.
Although less than 20 percent of the estimated number of OFWs abroad signed up for the OAV, the Comelec considers breaching the 1-million mark as a milestone since it began registration activities on May 2014.
“The 1 million mark was our Holy Grail when we started the registration way back in May ,” Lim said.
At the sidelines of the hearing at the House of Representatives, Lim noted that only around 700,000 OFWs signed up for the OAV in the 2013 midterm polls.
“Malaki na ‘yan,” he said, referring to the 1.4 million new registrants.
The Comelec has extended the period for the reactivation of registration of overseas absentee voters to Dec. 9, while the registration will be until Oct. 31. The option to reactivate will be for voters who have failed to vote for two consecutive elections.
Lim earlier said that for the 2016 elections, voting for overseas absentee voters will be extended to areas with a large number of OFWs, and certain designated ports for registered seafarers in a bid to increase voter turnout.
Meanwhile, the commissioner said the Comelec will ask presidential candidates to accomplish a form outlining their platform of government and stand on issues affecting OFWs for the overseas voters’ information.
The candidates response should not go beyond 1,500 words.
Lim said the move aims to encourage more OFWs to vote in the upcoming polls.
“[Ito ay gagawin natin] para maipakita natin sa mga OFWs natin na tinatawag nating modern day heroes na ang eleksyon ay talagang hindi lang para sa mga Filipino dito sa loob ng ating bansa. Kasama din sila (OFWs) sa halalan,” he said. —KBK, GMA News