The National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON) raised serious concern about a new requirement from the Philippine Commission on Elections (COMELEC) that would require Filipinos in the US to request their ballot by mail to be able to participate in the upcoming 2016 national Philippine elections.
Historically, voters in the US automatically receive their ballots in the mail. Last December 2015 the COMELEC decided that 30 voting posts outside the Philippines will be implementing the automated election system (AES), and this past February approved a resolution that requires voters in eight countries, including those registered in the six voting posts in the United States, to request for their ballot by April 22nd, otherwise they will not receive any by mail and will be expected to vote in person.
“There were no consultations made with voters regarding these changes. As we reached out to community members, we found out that many Filipinos have not heard about this new requirement. The challenge now is to notify all 170,000 registered voters in the US and make sure they know about it and the different methods to vote,” said AV David, NAFCON secretary general.
NAFCON urged the COMELEC and their local counterparts in the US to come up with a comprehensive plan to notify registered voters to ensure their participation in the elections. “Personal voting is a good option for those who can make it to their local Consulate, however, the jurisdiction of one Consulate encompasses several states. We cannot expect someone from Alaska or Washington State to fly to the nearest Consulate in San Francisco just to vote — this is why postal voting is important. But with this new requirement, tens of thousands of voters could potentially not know that they will not be automatically receiving their ballots in the mail and in the process would be disenfranchised,” continued David.
“Filipinos in the US contributed almost 40 percent of the $26.9 billion in remittances to the Philippines in 2014, the largest among all countries that remitted to the Philippines. Voting allows Filipinos overseas to have a say in their own lives and the future of their families in the Philippines. Let’s inform our fellow Filipinos about this new voting requirement, and not allow this requirement to be a bureaucratic hurdle that will effectively silence the basic democratic voice of tens of thousands of overseas voters,” added Terrence Valen, NAFCON President.
NAFCON also urged the support for the campaign of the U.S.Chapter of Migrante Partylist to inform Filipinos of this new requirement and others to disseminate their educational materials.
On March 12, NAFCON participated via live stream in the worldwide Miting De Avance of Migrante Partylist, hosted by its Hong Kong Chapter and featured Senatorial candidate Neri Colmenares and Migrante Partylist nominees. During this activity Filipinos around the world voiced their concerns and aspirations, the issues their sector faces, and the vision of a better Philippines that they want for themselves and their families. For more information, please contact Migrante Partylist-USA at 415-890-4526 or [email protected]