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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 08:11:06 AM

Platform of Filipino Migrant Organisations' Letter to President Arroyo 1/25/01

Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
President of the Philippines
Malacanang Palace
Manila, Philippines

January 25, 2001 

Dear President Macapagal-Arroyo, 

Congratulations on your becoming the new President of the Philippines!  

We would like to call your urgent attention to the fact that seven million overseas Filipinos are disenfranchised. 

In the spirit of Peoples’ Power and for the empowerment and democratic rights of overseas Filipinos, as an integral sector of the Filipino People, we are urging you to certify the Absentee Voting Bill before the 11th Congress adjourns. Ever since this fundamental right of suffrage has been enshrined in our 1987 Constitution, we have been investing time and effort through delegations, campaigns and letters pressing Congress to pass the necessary legislation to make absentee voting a reality. 

Again, we strongly urge you as the new President of the Philippines, and in the spirit of Peoples’ Power, to certify the Absentee Voting Bill for passage before the 11th Congress adjourns. This would be a significant acknowledgement of the role of Overseas Filipinos as the biggest contributor to the Philippine economy. 

Yours sincerely,

Signed on behalf of the Platform of Filipino Migrant Organisations

Members of the Platform Council. 

Nonoi Hacbang
Commission for Filipino Migrant Workers
International Office,
Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Debbie Valencia
Athens, Greece

Ding Bagasao
Forum for Philippine Concerns
Geneva, Switzerland

Pat Valenzuela
Radyo Pinoy
Copenhagen, Denmark

Ruben Gerardo
Filipino Community in Norway (FCN)
Oslo, Norway

Nonoy Ty
Philippine Seamen’s Assistance Programme (PSAP)
Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Fr. Conrado Amon
Centro Filipino
Barcelona, Spain

Basco Fernandez
Federation of Filipino Organisations in the Netherlands (FFON)
Utrecht, The Netherlands

Weni Gamboa
Tuluyang Pinoy
Zurich, Switzerland

Noel Fabian
Brussels Belgium

Noli Buhay
Stockholm, Sweden

Emma Bibal
Malu Padilla
Babaylan - Philippine Women’s Network in Europe

Nely Tang
Commission for Filipino Migrant Workers
CFMW-Italia, Rome, Italy

Marilou Hardillo
Philippine Women’s Forum


Platform of Filipino Migrant Organisations' Letter to Congress 12/15/01

December 15, 2000 

An Open Letter on Overseas Voting – to the 11th Congress at the 11th hour! 

On the occasion of the official declaration by the UN of December 18th as International Migrants’ Day, we send you greetings from the Platform of Filipino Migrant Organisations in Europe! This UN declaration is a significant international recognition of the important role of migrants globally. We also urge the Philippine Congress to mark this special international declaration by passing the Bill on Absentee Voting. 

We understand at this time the priority you are giving to the process of impeachment of President Estrada. This impeachment is indeed unprecedented in the history of the Republic of the Philippines, and requires that it should be carried through with all due deliberations. 

However as Overseas Filipinos, we also wish to remind you of another historical and Constitutional responsibility which is in your hands – namely the responsibility to enact the Absentee Voting Bill. 

We are concerned that this important legislative agenda may be put aside in the current circumstances. You, as Senators and Representatives of the 11th Congress, as well as we and many other organisations of Overseas Filipinos, have invested much time and effort in bringing the Absentee Voting Bill to its current stage.  

Besides, it is 13 years since the 1987 Constitution guaranteed our Right to Vote as Filipino citizens overseas. The failure of Congress so far to enact appropriate legislation is a denial of our fundamental and Constitutional right.  

Especially in times of economic crisis like now, we hear from many sides in the Philippines, the important role we play as “bagong bayani” in the Philippine economy – with Overseas Filipino remittances reaching 8 billion US$ annually. Besides our Constitutional right, this perhaps should also be an added reason to ensure that the enactment of the Absentee Voting Bill remains as a priority on the legislative agenda of the 11th Congress 

We are acutely aware that 2001 will be a year of Elections in the Philippines. We are also aware that this 11th Congress will adjourn in February 2001 and that approximately two months remain in the working life of this Congress.  

We, as Overseas Filipinos, therefore urge you to enact the Absentee Voting Bill as a matter of justice to Overseas Filipinos and as a matter of Constitutional responsibility of the 11th Congress.  

We believe that the enactment of the Absentee Voting Bill is not a matter of choice; it is a matter of necessity. It is also not a matter of timing and discretion; it is a matter of right and obligation. Therefore we expect the 11th Congress to discharge its responsibilities in relation to the right of suffrage for Overseas Filipinos.  

The developments in the recent US election have underlined the importance of the role of absentee voting in a democracy. The enactment of the Absentee Voting Bill will also mean an enhancement of the democratisation process in the Philippines.  

Will it not be an irony of history if the impeachment trial of the President, which is an exercise of democracy at home, will give the 11th Congress a rationale for setting aside the urgent legislative agenda of the Absentee Voting Bill? 

The impeachment of the President grave as it is, is not a reason for continuing to deny us – an integral sector of the Filipino people our long denied right to vote. The enactment of the Absentee Voting Bill will be as historical and constitutional a test of the political will of the 11th Congress as the impeachment of the President. 

We count on your Constitutional responsibility to Overseas Filipinos. Let us remember you as the distinguished members of the 11th Congress who, enabled us to participate for the first time in Philippine Elections in 2001. This will also be a very appropriate way of marking the UN declaration of International Migrants’ Day. 

Yours sincerely

Signed on behalf of the Platform of Filipino Migrant Organisations

Members of the Platform Council. 


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