CHICAGO (FAXX/jGLi) – A member of United States Pinoys For Good Governance (USP4GG) in Chicago, Illinois had appealed to President Noynoy Aquino to appoint an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) to fill up one of the two vacant slots as commissioners of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) “as a fitting way to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the passage of the Overseas Absentee Voting (OAV) law on Feb. 13th.”
At the same time, Marlon L. Pecson, a businessman, urged the Comelec to create a “pilot project” to allow OFW’s to vote online or thru the Internet in the May 13, 2013 mid-term elections.
By appointing an OFW in the Comelec, the appointee would have hands-on ideas that a non-OFW appointee might not be able to grasp and appreciate, Pecson said.
“An OFW commissioner does not need hands-on training in making peculiar and unique decisions that would take a non-OFW some doing dahil ang OFW ay pauwi na samantala ang non-OFW ay papunta pa lamang (an OFW already knows the smarts from experience because they have been there and than that),” Pecson added.
If Mr. Aquino cannot tap an OFW, who is currently working overseas, then he can always appoint an OFW retiree, who is now in the Philippines, Pecson suggested.
For instance, in order to cast to vote at the Philippine Consulate in Los Angeles, California, if an OFW is from Las Vegas, Nevada, he is going to travel by car for at least three to four hours or at least one hour by plane one way. The round trip travel by car could cost about $100 gasoline or about $300 round trip plane ticket.
On the other hand, if he can cast his vote online, an OFW can remit these expenses to their loved ones in the Philippines, instead of spending the money for gasoline or rent-a-car or airline companies, etc.
Because of the logistics involved in voting, an OFW can no longer afford to go back to the Consulate to watch the canvassing of votes after voting as they had to contend with the parking fees and meals, etc. to stay around. “So, who are really guarding the votes of OFWs?,” Pecson asked.
OFW’s SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO VOTE ON THE INTERNET
At the same time, Pecson suggested that OFW should be allowed to vote thru Internet or online because of the logistics involved in voting in person.
President Barack Obama was able to sign the bill to avert fiscal cliff when he was in Hawaii, using an “autopen,” Pecson said, “and nobody complained. Why can’t OFW use a similar mechanism like Internet to cast their vote?
“We are now in the 21st Century. But our voting mechanism is still wallowing in the 19th century’s manual voting. Why not give the Internet mechanism a shot?”
Pecson asked why the Philippine Congress would limit OFWs to vote for national candidates, like President and Senators only?
Referring to this reporter, who is from Sorsogon province, Pecson asked, “Why can’t you vote for or against your local officials, like incumbent Governor Raul Lee, who has pending numerous graft charges at the Ombudsman? Governor Lee deserves to be replaced.”
By appointing a non-OFW to replace one of the two vacancies that opened up last week following the retirement of Rene Sarmiento and Armando Velasco, President Aquino will only further marginalize the overseas Filipino voters.
An OFW or a retired OFW will be there to protect the interest of the OFWs. The OFW’s will be kept more abreast with the developments with voting.
For instance, instead of advertising OFW Comelec rules in overseas publications, the Comelec merely places legal notices on two Philippine newspapers of general circulation, which are not accessible overseas. This has caused the disenfranchisement of 238,455 OAV voters, who did not get a notice that they were supposed to timely file “their manifestation” at a Philippine Consular office abroad in order to vote in May 2013 elections.
These 238,455 OAV voters registered to vote in the 2004 elections but did not vote in the 2007 and 2010 elections. By failing to cast their votes in two consecutive elections, they were not allowed to vote in May 2013 national elections.
When it comes to meeting Comelec deadlines, OFW’s are always the last to know, Pecson said.