WHY ABSENTEE VOTING IN 2004
1. The right to vote is a FUNDAMENTAL political right that Congress, by its inaction,
has long denied 7 million overseas Filipinos.
2. It's been 15 years since the Philippine Constitution specifically mandated Congress
to pass an absentee voting law. Enough of the same excuses (e.g., fear of fraud is a sorry
excuse for the inability to craft a good absentee voting law, and "fear" alone
is not enough reason to deprive millions of their basic right to vote)--Congress has an
overriding LEGAL, POLITICAL, and MORAL obligation to enfranchise overseas Filipinos.
3. As "economic saviors" remitting at least 7 billion dollars a year,
overseas Filipinos have more than earned the right to participate in elections. Congress
should prove that it sincerely appreciates the economic contributions of overseas
Filipinos by passing the absentee voting bill.
4. To build political stability and elect the best possible leaders, we need to help
create an electorate that's free from the influence of guns, goons, gold, and glamour--the
7 million overseas Filipinos are less vulnerable to those forces. Congress should put an
end to a political culture that has kept the vast majority of our people trapped in the
bowels of poverty.
5. We, overseas Filipinos, can complain all we want about our grievances against the
government, but until we become a voting block, powers that be will continue to get away
with paying lip service to our needs. It is time members of Congress assume full
accountability to the now global Filipino nation and make the bold moral decision to
finally EMPOWER the country's modern-day heroes.
Here are things you can actually do RIGHT NOW to finally force Congress to do what it
should have done 15 years ago. Most are echoes of Ellene Sana's recent call to action, and
most have worked in the past--there is no reason to believe they won't work this time. We
need EVERYONE to help sustain the pressure. Please remember that we've never been this
close to passage, mainly because many of us care enough to act. However, while we seem so
close, we've never really been so far. As Ka Edong said, we are now in the throes of a
milestone--it's "the final push to give birth to the AVL baby." PLEASE do some
pushing, OR our complacency could bring us a stillborn, a bill killed or severely mangled
by thoughtless and uninformed backroom deals!
1. CONTACT (e-mail, call, write, fax) LEGISLATORS (the representative of your district
or a personal friend/acquaintance in Congress). Our concerns: Pass a bill that includes
ALL FILIPINO CITIZENS--including immigrants--and allows participation in national
referenda/plebiscites BY MAY of this year (otherwise we'll have to wait until 2007 to
vote!). Contact them yourself and/or ask your relatives to make the calls or to visit the
legislators' office. Contact information of all members of Congress is now available
online at the EMPOWER Web site: House of Representatives
and Senate. You are
also encouraged to contact ALL legislators with listed e-mail addresses and give them a
piece of your mind. Click on the following: House
of Representative and Senate.
2. Help keep the issue on the national agenda. Write/e-mail/call newspapers and other
media organizations, post comments in e-groups and forums, discuss the issue with your
organizations. Click here to e-mail our priority
targets and here to access T's compilation of forums. Please note that papers are
not likely to publish your letters if you don't put your name and contact information
(address and phone number) down. Also, mass mailing lessen the chances of
publication, so it is advisable to send separate e-mails to each of the priority targets.
If you have an article you want published, send a copy to firstname.lastname@example.org so I can forward it to our
much bigger media list.
3. Send statements of support/other comments to email@example.com
so we can create a "Voices of OFWs" document, which will be submitted to
legislators for them to realize how bad we want our right to vote.
4. Ask your organization to launch signature and/or postcard campaigns. For maximum
impact, we will want to submit the signatures (generated by different groups) as one
package. Please let me know if you are doing it, so I can make sure your results will be
included when we hand off the documents. For those who want to send postcards, complete
addresses are also available at the EMPOWER pages: House of Representative and
5. Recommend to relatives the reelection of legislators supportive of the bill, and
EXPOSE and OPPOSE those hindering passage. Refer to the following pages to determine the
position of each legislator: House
of Representative and Senate.
6. As suggested by Carlo Butalid, inform legislators that we will campaign against
investments in their districts if they oppose or obstruct passage.
7. As suggested by Me Ann Gonzales and Gil Ramos, withhold support for the OFW Bonds
for as long as Congress sits on our bill.
Other actions that require some coordination:
1. As suggested by Cathy Ledesma, visiting OFWs are encouraged to drop by Congress to
let legislators know that we want our bill passed. Come as individuals or groups. Contact
the OFW-Homeland group at OFW-Homeland@yahoogroups.com
(or through Cathy at firstname.lastname@example.org or via
her cell phone at 0918-9044188) to arrange the visit.
2. Clearly, we need more people to attend the sessions. Ellene has sounded this off way
back, but unfortunately those of us overseas can't be present. It is up to our local
allies AND our families to reinforce KAKAMMPI, eLagda, and the OFWNet group. Please call
relatives and other contacts (e.g., NGOs) in the Philippines to attend the sessions. E-mail (email@example.com) or call (632-4354584
or 632-9215810) KAKAMMPI for the most up-to-date schedule and to give your contact
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