Tuesday, May 12, 2009

COMELEC gets a failing grade

Migrante gives COMELEC a failing grade, calls for the extension of OAV Registration

The largest umbrella alliance of overseas Filipino workers’ (OFW) groups worldwide, gave the Commission on Elections a failing grade on its ongoing overseas absentee voting registration. This, as the poll body announced recently that it has so far approved the registration of 4,751 overseas absentee voters (OAV). The number, the group averred, is less than one percent of the COMELEC’s target million OAV registrants.

“Once again, the COMELEC flunked out on its mission to empower OFWs worldwide by ensuring their right to suffrage. For managing to approve only a microscopic number of absentee voters with barely three months to go before its August 31, 2009 deadline; we give the COMELEC a resounding failing mark,” said Migrante Chairman Garry Martinez.

The group likewise castigated the poll body for misleading the public when it expressed confidence that it can still meet its 1 million target despite the dismal OAV registration turnout. Migrante maintained that when the COMELEC decided to cut short the OAV registration period for two months, it single-handedly disenfranchised millions of potential absentee voters..

The COMELEC, thru Resolution No. 8556, promulgated November 27, 2008, ruled to reset the resumption of the OAV registration from December 1, 2008 to February 1, 2009. It would be recalled that Migrante was among the first organizations to raise strong objections in that COMELEC decision, saying that it would translate to massive disenfranchisement among OFW voters.

“While we commit our global ranks to OFW empowerment by way of the ballot, Migrante International urges the COMELEC to extend the ongoing OAV registration to December this year in order to accommodate the millions of OFWs who are eligible to vote in 2010. We also demand that satellite registrations be done by posts and consulates worldwide more frequently in order to reach the broadest number of OFWs,” Martinez said.

Migrante International and its member organizations in 22 countries worldwide strongly lobbied for the passage of the Overseas Absentee Voting Act. It was signed into law on February 13, 2003.

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