NEW JERSEY (June 2) — In preparation for the 2010 Philippine national elections, a Philippine-based international organization of migrants and overseas Filipino workers, has taken the initial step to get involved.
Dr. Epimaco Densing, Jr., World President of the Association for Filipinos Abroad and Relatives (AFAR) said the organization has petitioned the Philippines’ Commission on Elections (Comelec) to register AFAR as a Party List. Densing said the Comelec may hear the petition in November.
Under Philippine Election Laws, sectoral groups of youth, poor, farmers and migrants may be represented in Congress, if a party list were to get at least two percent of total votes.
Based on the results of the last Philippine elections, Densing said a party list needs at least 400,000 to 500,000 votes to get one seat in Congress. A maximum of three seats may be alloted to a party list, if it received the required votes needed for three representatives.
In its petition with the Comelec, AFAR said it registered to represent migrants including overseas Filipino workers. Densing said migrants and overseas Filipino workers sectors have “no effective representation in Congress.”
According to Densing, AFAR’s main objectives are:
(1) To help and protect Filipinos abroad and their families and relatives in the Philippines
(2) To help restructure the Philippine government to minimize, if not eliminate graft, corruption, and poverty; to make the government services efficient and satisfactory; to promote and require honesty in public and private transactions; and to develop the country in order to attain peace, progress, justice, freedom, and equality, economically, politically, socially, and spiritually.
To achieve these objectives, Densing said migrants will have to do their share in order to ensure that AFAR effectively represents their concerns. The first step, he said, is for migrants and overseas Filipino workers to register as an Overseas Absentee Voter (OAV) to avail of the mail-in ballot. He emphasized the urgency of early registration since the registration deadline is August 31, 2009.
He added that migrants in the U.S., if U.S. citizens, will have to elect first to become dual citizens. Filipinos in the U.S. holding Philippine passports may only register as an Overseas Absentee Voter (OAV).
To ensure that all migrants are represented in AFAR, Densing said AFAR has regional offices located around the world. For further information about AFAR and its programs, AFAR’s Website is at www.afar-phil.com.