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End the political exclusion of more than 7 million of the nation's "modern-day heroes"!   The 1987 Constitution requires Congress to pass a law enabling overseas Filipinos to vote! After 14 years, where is that law?

  Last modified:  03/12/2005 07:32:27 AM

Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines Press Release


Constitutional Right 

Section 2, Article V of the Constitution states that “… Congress shall provide a system for securing the secrecy and sanctity of the ballot as well as a system for absentee voting by qualified Filipinos abroad.” In the name of the CBCP, ECMI reiterates the Church’s support for any move to put to effect this constitutional provision. It is unfortunate that this very day, both Congress and the Senate have consistency denied this Constitutuional “right”. 


The Philippine Migrants Rights Watch (PMRW) and ICMI conducted a survey among OFWs in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, Italy and Denmark. The 411 returned questionnaires provided some indications on the OFW’s percepcion of the absentee voting bill. The result was: 

- 66% of the respondents said that OFWs should be allowed to vote for the simple reason that voting is a right.
- 62% of the respondents said they would make time and go the Philippine Embassy or Consulate to cast their vote.
- 58% of the respondents recognized that it would be difficult to vote without exposure to the campaigning candidates.
- 53% of the respondents agreed that voting rights should be limited to national elections.
- 48% of the respondents did not agreed that registration should not be conducted outside the Philippines.
- 36% of the respondents claimed to be aware of the Absentee Voting Bill. 

Asia’s first and most unique democracy denies as constitutional rights to OFWs 

The Philippines has the reputation of being the most uniquely dynamic democracy in Asia. However, it continues to deny the exercise of this democratic right to the sector called “economic saviors” of the country. Countries like Armenia, Australia, Bosnia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Croatia, France, Germany, Great Britain, India, Indonesia, Japan, Peru, Senegal, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, USA and Venezuela have already grant their citizens this right. 

The legislative “freezer” 

Fourteen years have passed since the first clamor for the approval of the absentee voting. HB 10720 and SB 1746 are two pieces of the legislation granting the “modern day heroes” exercise their political right. 

Several attempts in both lower and upper house of the legislature have been made to pass the Absentee Voting Bill. The 11th Congress, in spite of the lobbying from all walks of society, failed to pass the bill. The 11th Congress denied the OFWs their constitutional right and ignored the results of the survey. 

Why are legislators so afraid of this Bill? Are they honestly concerned about the possible frauds if such bills be passed? The denial of constitutional rights should not be the solution to solving electoral frauds. Electoral frauds should be sincerely faced and solved not by refusing citizens their exercise of the right to vote. We hope and pray that that the 12th Congress will desist from keep this Bill in the legislative freezer. 

Appeal for urgent action: 

We appeal to the senators and congressmen to treat the so-called modern heroes with dignity as true and full citizens of the Asia’s most dynamic democracy.

We challenge President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to certify the absentee voting bill as URGENT, treating it among the top priority bills of the 12th Congress.

We appeal to this “pro-poor” administration to “defreeze” this legislative bill and truly recognize the “economic saviors” and the families they have left behind.


Chairman,  ECMI-CBCP


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