With their number breaching the 1.3 million mark, active registered overseas voters could dictate the outcome of the 2016 national elections, a Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) official overlooking overseas voting registration said Monday.
"Since overseas Filipinos are considered to be their family’s bread winners, it is not a stretch to surmise that each overseas Filipino can influence the vote of at least three family members," said DFA Undersecretary Rafael E. Seguis, who chairs the department's Overseas Voting Secretariat.
"Thus, the 1.3 million active registered overseas voters are roughly equivalent to 5.2 million votes. This is a definite game changer for Philippine politics,” he added.
According to the DFA-OVS, there were 1,301,598 active registered overseas voters for the 2016 elections as of October 15.
Broken down by region, there are almost 550,000 active registered overseas voters in the Middle East and Africa, about 250,000 in the Americas, about 150,000 in Europe, and, 320,000 in Asia and the Pacific.
Seafarers who registered as overseas voters number about 30,000, the DFA-OVS said.
Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Andres Bautista, meanwhile, lauded the DFA-OVS for the high number of registered overseas voters.
"COMELEC lauds the effort of the DFA-OVS and all the Philippine Embassies in their aggressive campaign to increase the number of registered overseas Filipino voters," he said.
"I sincerely appreciate the initiatives to put up overseas registration centers in the country as well as in our Embassies. I also commend the Embassies for including the overseas voting registration in their mobile consular services," Bautista added.
For his part, DFA Secretary Albert del Rosario said "preparations by the Department and the Commission on Elections led to a successful start for the registration process."
Meanwhile, the DFA urged Filipino citizens who expect to be abroad during the 30-day overseas voting period for the 2016 presidential election—or from April 9, 2016 to May 9, 2016—to personally register as an overseas voter at any Philippine Foreign Service Post (FSP), including the three Manila Economic and Cultural Offices (MECO), 15 overseas voter registration centers in the Philippines and at other Comelec-approved field/mobile registration centers.
Applicants should be at least 18 years old on May 9, 2016 and not otherwise disqualified by law, the DFA said.
Overseas Filipinos in the Asia Pacific (except China and Taiwan), Americas, Europe, Middle East and Africa regions may go to irehistro.comelec.gov.ph/ov to access the iREHISTRO On-line system and register as an overseas voter.
Voter registration period ends on October 31, 2015. —KBK, GMA News