Undocumented OFWs can register as absentee voter

‘‘UNDOCUMENTED  overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) are not disqualified to register as absentee voter.’ according to a Filipino migrants’ right group based in the Middle East.

Migrante-Middle East (M-ME) regional coordinator John Leonard Monterona issued the clarification after receiving reports that there were undocumented overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the Middle East who were told that they are not allowed to register as an overseas absentee voter.

“Being an undocumented or being an ‘illegal’ as to the status of a migrant worker’s stay in the host country is not one of the disqualifications mentioned by the law,” Monterona, referring to the law ‘Providing for a System of Overseas Absentee Voting by Qualified Citizens Abroad’ or Republic Act 9189.

Monterona added RA 9189, enumerated 5 instances of disqualifications as stated in Section 5 of the said law, and that being an undocumented or ‘illegal’ is not set forth as a disqualification to be an overseas absentee voter.

“Undocumented OFWs should need to bring with them their passport and present it to the PH embassy’s consular official in-charge in OAV registration,” Monterona added.

If in case, an undocumented OFW lost, or has no valid passport, or with passport but temporarily not available, Monterona advised, “the OFW should instead bring any IDs with him and present it to the embassy official in-charge in the registration.”

“The embassy official will issue a Certification that the undocumented OFW has been properly identified and he or she is not disqualified by law, and at least eighteen (18) years of age on the day of the election,” he added.

He urged undocumented OFWs to report to them if they will not be allowed to register by embassy officials.

“We urge our fellow OFWs, undocumented or illegally staying in the host country, to register as an absentee voter. They are not disqualified by law,” Monterona adding that if they need assistance to register, his group is more than willing to assist them.

‘Let’s exercise our right of suffrage and elect capable and pro-OFW leaders,” he added.

M-ME roughly estimated that there were around 16,000 to 18,000 undocumented OFWs in Saudi Arabia, while in the whole middle-east it would reach to around 28,000 to 30,000 out of the estimated 2-M OFWs working in the Middle East.

As of end September 2012, there were more than 300,000 new OAV registrants that would add up to the 589,830 registered during the May 2010 elections. The COMELEC and the DFA’s Overseas Absentee Voting Secretariat (OAVS) are aiming to have 1-M OAV voters tapping the help of various OFWs organizations and Filipino communities abroad for information and dissemination campaign.

The OAV registration will last until the end of this month.

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