Republic of the Philippines
HOUSE OF REPRSENTATIVES
Second Regular Session
HOUSE BILL NO. 10720
(In substitution of House Bill Nos. 190, 384, 1027, 1441, 2206, 6779,
Introduced by Representatives Rosales, Briones Abueg, Candazo, Herrera,
Abayon, Gonzales, Macarambon, Jr., Nachura, Abad, Liban, Duavit and Syjuco
PROVIDING FOR A SYSTEM OF ABSENTEE VOTING AND REGISTRATION FOR QUALIFIED
FILIPINOS ABROAD AND APPROPRIATING FUNDS THEREFOR
Be it enacted by the Senate and the House of Representatives of the Republic of the
Philippines in Congress assembled:
SECTION 1. Short Title. -- This Act shall be known as the "Absentee
Voting and Registration Act of 2000."
SEC. 2. Declaration of Policy. -- The State shall provide a system of
absentee voting and registration for qualified Filipinos abroad. Towards this end, the
State shall ensure equal opportunity and proper access to all qualified Filipinos abroad
in the exercise of this fundamental def'n.
SEC. 3. Definition of Terms. -- For purposes of this Act:
"Absentee Voting" refers to the
process by which qualified Filipinos abroad may vote in Philippine elections;
"Filipinos Abroad" refers to
Filipinos citizens who are qualified to vote but who, during Philippine elections, are
outside of the Philippines either on a temporary or permanent basis, including land-based
and sea-based overseas Filipino workers, employees of the Philippine Government including
members of the Armed Forces assigned in foreign countries, and Filipino citizens who are
legally residing abroad;
"National Elections" refers to any
regular or special elections held for the purpose of electing any candidate for the office
President, Vice-President, member of the Senate, party-List Representative, or any
plebiscite, referendum or initiative on any national issue;
"Absentee Registration" refers to the
act of accomplishing and filing of a sworn application for registration by a qualified
Filipino voter abroad and including the same in the book of registered voters upon
approval by the Commission on Elections;
"Registration Record" refers to the
application for registration duly approved by the Commission on Elections;
"List of Voters" refers to the
enumeration of registered Filipino voters abroad per country duly certified by the
Commission on Elections for use in the elections;
"Commission" refers to the Commission
"Board of Election Inspectors" refers
to the body that conducts the election in the polling place.
SEC. 4. Coverage. -- Any Filipino abroad who has not renounced his Filipino
citizenship and not otherwise disqualified by law, shall have the right to register and
vote in all national elections.
SEC. 5. Disqualifications. -- The following shall be disqualified to
register and vote under this Act:
Any Filipino who has been sentenced by final judgement of a
Philippine court or tribunal to suffer imprisonment of not less than one (1) year,
including those found guilty of disloyalty as defined under Article 137 of the Revised
Penal Code, such disability not having been removed by plenary pardon or amnesty: Provided,
however, that any person disqualified to vote under this subsection shall
automatically reacquire the right to vote upon expiration of five (5) years after service
Any Filipino previously declared insane or incompetent by
competent authority unless subsequently declared by proper authority that such person is
no longer insane or incompetent;
Any person who has lost his Filipino citizenship;
Any person who has renounced his Filipino citizenship and has
pledged allegiance to a foreign country;
Any person whose registration has been cancelled or annulled.
SEC. 6. Absentee Registration. -- All Filipinos abroad not otherwise
disqualified by law who are at least eighteen (18) years of age regardless of their
location, work category and residency status abroad, may register as a voter.
Any person, who, on the day of registration may not have reached the required age but
who, on the day of election shall posses such qualification, may register as a voter.
Immediately after the approval of this Act, the Commission may hold a general
registration of voters for Filipinos abroad on certain dates and in places abroad as may
be determined by the Commission for purposes of the 2001 regular elections and all
elections, plebiscites, referenda, and initiatives subsequent thereto.
Thereafter, Filipinos abroad may file their application for registration, personal or
by mail, directly to the city or municipality of his residence. Th Commission may accredit
Filipino associations or non-government organizations that could assist at any stage or
process of said registration of voters.
No registration, however, shall be conducted during the period starting one hundred
eighty 91800 days before an election.
Filipinos abroad who have applied or are already registered in the Philippines pursuant
to Republic Act No. 8189, otherwise known as the "Voters Registration Act of
1996" need not register anew.
SEC. 7. Change of Residence. -- Any registered Filipino voter abroad
who has transferred to another country or in any place within the same country where he
sojourns, may notify in writing the Commission or the Election Registration Board in the
city or municipality of his residence for the transfer of his registration records or any
necessary changes that must be effected therein.
SEC. 8. Notice of Election. -- The Commission shall, through diplomatic or
consular officers, cause by publication in a newspaper of general circulation in the
countries where Filipino citizens are found, the place, date and time of the holding of a
regular or special national election and the requirements for the participation of
qualified Filipinos not later than one hundred eighty (180) days before the day of
The Commission shall also disseminate information on the mechanics of voting, which
shall include but not limited to primers, to qualified Filipinos abroad through Philippine
embassies or consulates or, where there are no such offices, send such information by mail
or by whatever possible means directly to the residential or working addresses of Filipino
citizens abroad or through non-government organizations or associations.
SEC. 9. Application for Absentee Voting. -- Every qualified Filipino abroad
who has applied for registration or has been registered may file with the Commission on
Elections or with the diplomatic or consular offices, not later than one hundred fifty
(150) days before a regular or special national election, a sworn written application to
vote in absentia in a form prescribed by the Commission.
The Commission shall ensure the availability of application forms for absentee voting
in Philippine embassies or consulates. In places where there are no such offices, such
application forms shall be sent to qualified voters by mail or by whatever possible means
directly to the residential or working addresses of qualified Filipino citizens abroad or
through non-government organizations or associations.
The Commission shall also provide application forms for absentee voting to all
Filipinos before their departure from the Philippines through the Department of Labor and
the Department of Foreign Affairs and other appropriate private or government agencies
before their departure from the Philippines.
Applications for absentee voting may be affected personally by the voter presenting
himself before the Commission in manila or the diplomatic or consular official or a
non-government organization or association duly deputized by the Commission. Application
by mail may be effected by the applicant sending a sworn written application to the
diplomatic or consular office where he is located, or, if no such office is established in
that country, then to the Commission's central office in Manila.
Upon receipt of the applications for absentee voting, the diplomatic or consular
officers or deputies of the Commission shall immediately transmit the same to the
Commission for verification. The Commission shall act on the applications not later than
ninety 990) days before the elections.
In cases of approval or disapproval, any aggrieved party or their representatives,
voter or representatives of political parties may file a petition with the Commission for
the inclusion or exclusion of Filipinos abroad from the voter's list. The Commission shall
decide on said petitions within ten (10) days upon receipt thereof and notify affected
parties within five (5) day thereafter.
SEC. 10. Preparation and Posting of Certified List of Absentee Voters. --
The Commission shall prepare a certified list of absentee voters ninety (90) days before a
regular or special national election and furnish copies thereof to all Philippine
embassies and consulates or, where there are no such offices, to deputized Filipino
associations or organizations abroad. Copies of the certified list of voters shall be
posted in the Philippine embassies or consulates or in such other places as may be
determined by the Commission. Upon payment of fees fixed by the Commission, the
candidates, heads of political parties and accredited citizens' arms shall also be
furnished copies thereof.
SEC. 11 - Transmittal, Printing, and Distribution of Ballots, Election Forms and
Paraphernalia. -- The Commission shall, within sixty (60) days before the
election, transmit by diplomatic pouch through the Department of Foreign Affairs to the
different embassies and consulates abroad, the number of ballots for absentee voting
corresponding to the number of registered Filipino voters abroad, and election forms and
paraphernalia necessary to ensure the secrecy, integrity and sanctity of the votes cast.
It shall be the duty and responsibility of the different embassies and consulates and
concerned to distribute the ballots, election forms and paraphernalia in accordance with
the guidelines issued by the Commission. In places where there are Philippine embassies or
Consulates, such ballots shall be sent to qualified voters by mail or in whatever possible
means directly to the residential or working addresses of qualified Filipinos abroad.
Party watchers shall have the right to be present in all phases of printing,
distribution and transmittal of ballots. No excess ballots shall be printed or
distributed. Undelivered ballots shall be returned to the Commission unaccomplished.
SEC. 12. Regulation on Campaigning Abroad. -- Campaign materials of any
candidate or political party may be sent to qualified Filipino voters by the political
parties or candidates concerned: Provided, that, the Commission shall ensure equal
opportunities to all candidates and political parties by regulating the size, number and
format of campaign materials;
SEC. 13. Balloting Procedure. -- Ballots shall be prepared and mailed to
registered absentee voters at their given address at least forty-five (45) days before the
day of election.
The absentee voter may personally vote and cast his ballot in the voting center
situated in the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the Republic of the Philippines
on the day of the election. Otherwise, he may send his envelope directly to the Commission
in Manila or to the corresponding diplomatic or consular office where he sojourns.
Every qualified absentee voter shall be entitled to cast his ballot at least fifteen
(15) days before the day of election. All ballots shall be contained in a specially seated
envelope with sealed markings. The voter shall be instructed that his ballot shall not be
counted if not transmitted in the special envelope furnished him.
The ballots duly accomplished by absentee voters may be personally delivered or sent by
registered mail to the diplomatic or consular officer concerned or directly to the
Commission, and must be received by the same before the close of the designated voting
SEC. 14. Counting and Canvass. -- Counting and canvass of absentee votes
shall be conducted simultaneously with the counting and canvassing of votes for local and
national elective officials. This process shall be open to the public.
For this purpose, the Commission shall constitute as many special boards of election
inspectors in diplomatic and consular offices and its central office in Manila as may be
necessary to count ballots. The Commission may deputize any Filipino from non-government
organizations or any private entity, as well as Filipino government officials working and
residing abroad as members of the boards of election inspectors abroad.
Only ballots received by the Commission and diplomatic and consular offices or boards
of election inspectors abroad on or before the close of voting on the day of he election
shall be included in the counting of votes.
A special board of canvassers composed of a director of the Commission, as chairman, an
officer of equivalent rank in the Department of justice, as vice-chairman, and an officer
also of equal rank in the Department of Education, Culture and Sports, as member, shall be
constituted to canvass the election returns submitted to it by the boards of election
For purposes of the 2001 elections, and until such time that an automated system of
elections could be implemented as may be determined by the Commission, the counting and
canvassing of absentee votes shall be done manually.
SEC. 15. Authority of the Commission to Promulgate Rules. -- The Commission
shall, in consultation with the Oversight Committee created by virtue this Act, the
Department of Foreign Affairs, the department of Labor and employment and other pertinent
agencies of he government and non-government organizations, promulgate the necessary rules
and regulations for the effective implementation of the provisions of this Act.
SEC. 16. Information Campaign. -- The Commission shall, in cooperation with
concerned government agencies and non-government organizations, undertake the necessary
information campaign for the purpose of educating the electorate on the manner of absentee
voting within and outside of the Philippines.
SEC. 17. Access to Official records and Documents. -- Any person shall have
the right to access and/or copy at his expense all registration records, voters list and
other official records and documents subject to reasonable regulations.
SEC. 18. Assistance from Government Officials. -- All government officials
to the extent practicable with their primary responsibilities, shall assist the Commission
in carrying out the purpose of this Act. All such officials shall take reasonable measures
to expedite the transmission, delivery and return of all election matters that the
Commission may require them to perform. Whenever necessary, the Commission may send
supervisory teams, headed by career executive service officers to assist the diplomatic or
consular offices concerned.
SEC. 19. Security Measure to Safeguard the Secrecy and Sanctity of Ballots.
-- At all stages of the electoral process, the Commission shall ensure that the secrecy
and sanctity of the ballot shall be preserved. Towards this end, all necessary and
practicable measures shall be adopted to allow representation of the candidates, political
parties, accredited citizen's arms and non-government organizations to intervene in all
stages of the electoral exercise and to prevent any and all forms of fraud and coercion.
SEC. 20. Prohibited Acts. -- Violations of any provision of this Act shall
constitute an election offense whether committed in the Philippines or in the countries
where absentee voting for qualified Filipinos may be conducted.
The penalties imposed in Section 264 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 881, otherwise known as the
Omnibus Election Code of the Philippines, As Amended, shall be imposed upon any person
found guilty of violating any provision of this Act.
SEC. 21. Oversight Committee. -- There shall be an Oversight Committee
composed of three 93) members each from the Senate the House of Representatives and the
Commission on elections to monitor and evaluate the implementation of this Act. A report
to Congress shall be submitted within ninety (90) days from the date of election.
SEC. 22. Applicability of other Election Laws. -- The pertinent provisions
of Batas Pambansa Blg. 881, As Amended, Republic Act no. 8189 and other election laws that
are not in conflict with the provisions of this Act shall have suppletory effect.
SEC. 23. Appropriation. -- The amount necessary to carry out the provisions
of this Act shall be included in the general Appropriations Act of the year following its
enactment into law and thereafter.
SEC. 24. Separability Clause. -- If any provision of this Act shall be
declared unconstitutional or invalid, the same shall not affect the remainder hereof.
SEC. 25. Repealing Clause. -- All laws, executive orders, rules and
regulations that are inconsistent with the provisions of this Act are hereby repealed or
SEC. 26. Effectivity. -- This Act shall take effect fifteen (15) days
following is publication in any newspaper of national circulation.