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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 08:23:38 AM


(Draft as of 07 January 1999)


First Regular Session


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


Be it enacted by the Senate and the House of Representatives of the Philippines in Congress assembled:

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 of sentence;

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 Philippine passport;

(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 election.

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 voting.

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 this Section.

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 therein.

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 Appropriations Act.

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 modified accordingly.

SECTION 23. Effectivity.

This Act shall take effect fifteen (15) days following its publication in two (2) newspapers of general circulation.




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