(Draft as of 07 January
11th CONGRESS OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES
First Regular Session
S E N A T E
S. No. ______
(In substitution of S. Nos. 463, 469, 653, 806, and 1274)
Prepared by the Committees on Constitutional Amendments, Revision of Codes and Laws;
and Finance with Senators Guingona, Jr., Ople, Roco, Santiago, Aquino-Oreta, and Osmeña
(J.) as authors
AN ACT PROVIDING FOR A SYSTEM OF ABSENTEE VOTING BY QUALIFIED FILIPINOS ABROAD
Be it enacted by the Senate and the House of Representatives of the Philippines in
SECTION 1. Short Title.
This Act shall be known as "The Absentee Voting Act."
SECTION 2. Overseas Filipinos Covered.
All Filipinos abroad who are registered voters in the Philippines, not otherwise
disqualified by law, who are at least eighteen (18) years of age on the day of election
may vote in all national elections for president, vice-president, senator, and district
and party-list representative in their temporary residence abroad.
SECTION 3. Disqualifications.
The following shall be disqualified from voting under this Act:
3.1. An immigrant who is recognized as such in the host country;
3.2. Any Filipino abroad who has been previously sentenced by final judgment of a
competent 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
3.3. Any Filipino abroad previously declared insane or incompetent by competent
authority unless subsequently declared by proper authority that such person is no longer
insane or incompetent.
SECTION 4. Procedure for Application.
4.1. Every qualified Filipino abroad shall file with the Commission on Elections or
with the diplomatic or consular officers authorized by the Commission not later than one
hundred eighty (180) days before the election, a sworn written application to vote in
absentia in a form prescribed by the Commission.
4.2. Application may be effected personally by the voter presenting himself before the
diplomatic or consular official or a non-government organization or a Philippine
association duly deputized by the Commission. Application by mail may be effected by the
applicant sending to the diplomatic or consular office in the country where he is located,
or, if no such office is established in that country, then to the Commission's central
office in Manila, a sworn written application. In every case, the applicant shall submit
to such official or deputy the following:
(A) Complete name, age, and other personal circumstance as shown in his valid
(B) Voter's registration identification card or other data to prove registration as a
voter in the Philippines;
(C) Temporary residence abroad; and
(D) Date of last departure from the Philippines.
The duly designated proper registration officer or deputy upon being satisfied that the
applicant is qualified absentee voter shall furnish applicant with the Absentee Voters
Affidavit to be accomplished in triplicate.
SECTION 5. Approval/Disapproval of Application for Absentee Voting.
The application shall be approved or disapproved by the ambassador, chargé d'affaires,
consul or any other officer duly designated by the Commission within five (5) days from
receipt thereof. In the event of disapproval of the application, the voter may appeal to
the Commission by mail within ten (10) days from receipt of notice of such disapproval.
The Commission shall act within five (5) days from receipt of such appeal and shall
immediately notify the voter of its decision. Applications sent by mail directly to the
Commission by absentee voters located in countries without Philippine diplomatic or
consular offices shall be acted upon within ten (10) days from receipt of application. In
case of disapproval, the applicant may file a motion for reconsideration by mail within
ten (10) days from receipt of the notice of disapproval.
All applications acted upon, whether approved or disapproved, shall be transmitted to
the Commission in Manila within ten (10) days from the approval or disapproval.
SECTION 6. Inclusion in the Permanent List of Voters.
Approved applications to vote in absentia filed with the designated diplomatic and
consular offices as well as those filed directly with the Commission shall be transmitted
to the Commission's central office in Manila for verification and for inclusion in the
permanent list of voters of the city or municipality concerned. The list of voters
prepared for the current election shall bear the notation that a person is so voting in
absentia in that particular election.
SECTION 7. Transmittal, Printing and Distribution of Ballots.
The transmittal or distribution of ballots shall be the accomplished by mail either
through the Commission or the Department of Foreign Affairs though the latter's missions,
embassies and consulates. 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. Security markings shall be observed in the printing of ballots. Bar codes
and timing marks shall be observed in the event that the modernization is in effect
through the use of optical scanners and computerization of all ballots. Undelivered
ballots shall be returned to the Commission unaccomplished.
SECTION 8. Regulation on Campaigning Abroad.
Campaign materials of any candidate or political party may be sent to absentee voters
abroad by the political parties and candidates concerned: Provided, That the Commission
shall ensure equal opportunities for all candidates and political parties by regulating
the size, number and format of campaign materials: Provided, finally, That no other form
of campaigning, whether directly or indirectly shall be allowed. The regular campaign
periods shall be observed.
SECTION 9. Balloting Procedure.
9.1. Upon verification by the Commission of the permanent list of voters, it shall,
within ten (10) days from the completion of its list, transmit by diplomatic pouch to the
diplomatic and consular offices concerned, the exact number of applications received and
approved by it, along with such materials and election paraphernalia necessary to ensure
the secrecy, integrity and sanctity of the votes cast.
9.2. Upon receipt by the designated diplomatic or consular officer of the absentee
ballots and other election paraphernalia, he shall immediately distribute the same to the
qualified absentee voters. Ballots for absentee voters shall be prepared and mailed to the
absentee voters at their given address at least forty-five (45) days before the day of the
9.3. The absentee voter may personally vote and cast his ballots in the voting center
situated in the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the Republic of the Philippines
on the day of the election.
9.4. The absentee voter may send his envelope directly to the Commission in Manila or
to the corresponding diplomatic or consular office where he sojourns. He shall be entitled
to cast his ballots at least thirty (30) days before the day of the election. All ballots
shall be contained in a specially sealed envelope with sealed markings. The absentee 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 the absentee voter may be
personally delivered or sent by registered mail to the diplomatic or consular officer
concerned and must be received by the same before the close of the designated voting hour
in the respective embassy and consular offices.
SECTION 10. Counting and Canvass.
Counting and canvassing 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, including the interested non-government organizations and
people's organizations and the accredited citizens' arms.
For this purpose, the Commission shall constitute as many special boards of election
inspectors in diplomatic and consular offices abroad and its central office in Manila as
may be necessary to count absentee ballots.
Only ballots received by the diplomatic or consular offices or the Commission on or
before the close of voting on the day of the election shall be included in the counting of
votes. Those received afterwards shall not be counted.
Within twelve (12) hours from the close of the counting in his embassy or consular
office, the diplomatic and consular officer concerned shall transmit with utmost diligence
the duly accomplished election returns to the Commission, together with all the necessary
certifications and forms as it may be require in its implementing rules and procedures.
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-secretary, shall be constituted to canvass the election returns submitted to it by
the boards of election inspectors.
The canvass of votes shall not cause the delay of the proclamation of winning candidate
if the outcome of will not be altered or a affected by the results thereof.
SECTION 11. Authority of the Commission to Promulgate Rules.
The Commission shall, in consultation with the Department of Foreign Affairs, the
Department of Labor and Employment and other pertinent agencies of the government,
promulgate the necessary rules and regulations for the effective implementation of the
provisions of this Act.
SECTION 12. Information Campaign.
The Commission shall undertake the necessary information campaign for the purpose of
educating the electorate within and outside of the Philippines on the manner of absentee
SECTION 13. Assistance from Government Officials.
All government officials, particularly from the Department of Foreign Affairs,
Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, the Overseas Workers Welfare
Administration, and all other government offices concerned with the welfare of the
Filipinos overseas, as well as non-government organizations (NGOs), shall, to the extent
practicable and compatible with their primary responsibilities, assist the Commission in
carrying out the provisions of this Act. All such agencies or officials shall take
reasonable measures to expedite the transmission, delivery and return of all election
matters which 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.
SECTION 14. Security Measures to Safeguard Secrecy and Sanctity of Ballot.
At all stages of the electoral process, the Commission shall ensure that the security
and sanctity of the ballot shall be preserved. This shall include the establishment of
special units in the Philippine Postal Corporation that will attend exclusively to mails
containing the ballots of absentee voters. Towards this end, all measures necessary and
practicable shall be adopted to allow representation of the candidates, political parties,
accredited citizen's arms to intervene in all stages of the exercise and to prevent any
and all forms of fraud and coercion. The Commission may deputize the Department of Foreign
Affairs, the Department of Labor and Employment and other departments, branches or
instrumentalities of the government to secure the integrity of the entire process of
absentee voting provided in this Act.
SECTION 15. Prohibited Acts.
It shall be unlawful: 15.1. For any official or employee of the Philippine government
to influence or attempt to influence any person covered by this Act to vote, or not to
vote, for a particular candidate. Nothing in this Act shall be deemed to prohibit free
discussion regarding politics or candidates for public office.
15.2. For any person to knowingly or willingly deprive any person of any right secured
in this Act, or knowingly or willingly give false information as to his name, address, or
period of residence for the purposes of establishing his eligibility to register or vote
under this Act; or to conspire with another person for the purpose of encouraging the
giving of false information in order to establish the eligibility of any individual to
vote under this Act; or to pay, or offer to pay, or to accept payment either for
application to vote in absentia or for voting .
15.3. For any person to tamper with the mail containing ballots for absentee voters
including the destruction of ballots.
15.4. For any candidate to campaign abroad, whether directly or indirectly.
The prohibited acts described in this section are electoral offenses whether committed
in the Philippines or in the countries were the absentees are located.
The penalties imposed in Section 264 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 881, as amended, shall be
imposed on any person found guilty of committing any of the prohibited acts defined in
SECTION 16. Transitory Provision.
For its initial implementation, absentee voting shall be conducted in Saudi Arabia,
Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, Italy, Spain, the United States of America and such other
country as may be determined by the Commission based on the number of overseas Filipinos
present in such country and the presence of a Philippine diplomatic or consular office
SECTION 17. Oversight Committee.
An oversight committee is hereby created composed of the Chairman of the Senate
Committee on Constitutional Amendments, Revision of Codes and Laws and two (2) other
Senators, and the Chairman of the House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms and
two (2) other members of the House of Representatives and three (3) Commissioners from 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.
SECTION 19. Applicability of Other Election Laws.
The pertinent provisions of Batas Pambansa Blg. 881, as amended, and other election
laws which are not in conflict with the provisions of this Act shall remain in full force
and effect and are hereby incorporated as integral parts of this Act.
SECTION 20. Appropriations.
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 in to law. Thereafter, the
expenses for its continued implementation shall be included in the subsequent General
SECTION 21. Separability Clause.
If any provision of this Act is held to be unconstitutional or invalid, the same shall
not affect he remainder thereof.
SECTION 22. Repealing Clause.
All laws, presidential decree, executive orders, rules and regulations, and part
thereof which are inconsistent with the provisions of this Act are hereby repealed or
SECTION 23. Effectivity.
This Act shall take effect fifteen (15) days following its publication in two (2)
newspapers of general circulation.