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PH Senator Drillon Wants DFA and Comelec to explain low absentee voting turnout

Philippine Senator Frank Drilon wants Comelec, DFA to explain poor participation in absentee voting abroad

Despite an increased budget allocated to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) for a wider implementation of the overseas absentee voting (OAV) law, less overseas Filipinos took part in the last elections and Senate Finance Committee head Sen. Franklim M. Drilon wants an explanation from the two agencies.

“I hate to sound like a broken record, but I again deplore the dismal implementation of the absentee voting law in the just-concluded midterm elections,” said Drilon, who was one of the principal sponsors of Republic Act No. 9189, or the Overseas Absentee Voting Act, when it was enacted by Congress in February 2003. “I want the DFA and the Comelec to explain why.”

Drilon, who was campaign manager of the administration Team PNoy senatorial slate, disclosed that of the 737,759 registered Filipino voters abroad, only 113,209 voted with a voters’ turnout of only 15. 35 percent.

“This turn out,” Drilon noted, “is way below the already low 26 percent overseas absentee voting turnout during the 2010 elections. Its seems that less and less Filipinos abroad are inclined to exercise their right to vote, contrary to the intention of Congress when this law was enacted.”

“When we crafted the absentee voting law, we wanted to empower the overseas Filipino workers in the hope that at least they can influence the result of the election by electing qualified leaders,” recalled Drilon. “However, the turnout is getting more and more disappointing by the election.”

Drilon, who presided over the deliberation of the 2013 national budget in the Senate in September last year, noted that P105.038 million was allocated for the Comelec and another P43.41 million was allocated to the DFA for the implementation of the absentee voting law this year.

“With only 113,209 overseas Filipinos voting, the cost of each absentee vote is now P1,310 per vote. This is outrageous. I wonder how the Comelec and the DFA can justify these numbers,” Drilon said.

During the budget hearings, Drilon recalled that he specifically directed the DFA to find ways to increase the participation of overseas Filipinos in absentee voting (OAV) in the 2013 midterm elections, amid the tightening fiscal position of the government.

After 2010 elections, Drilon lamented the poor absentee voting turnout, noting that the actual number of voters that participated in that elections totaled 153,323, which represented only 26 percent of the 589,830 registered absentee voters.