Sen. Francis Tolentino on Thursday, May 18, cited the Commission on Elections (Comelec) over its plans to conduct the pilot-testing of Internet voting for Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in the 2025 midterm elections.
According to Tolentino, allowing migrant Filipino workers to vote in the most convenient way will encourage them to exercise their constitutional right to suffrage and choose their preferred leaders who will lead the country in the next three to six years.
“Mas magiging demokratiko ang proseso kapag maraming kababayan nating nasa ibayong dagat na mga absentee voters — migrant workers, OFWs — ang kalahok. Magiging kumbinyente ang paraan ng pagboto at hindi na po nila kailangang bumyahe pa ng ilang oras para lamang marating ang mga itinakdang polling precincts,” said Tolentino.
During last year’s presidential election, only 626,000 out of the 1.6-million registered overseas absentee voters were able to cast their ballots — equivalent to only 39 percent voter’s turnout.
Comelec chairman George Erwin Garcia in a statement released on Wednesday, May 17, said there is no need for a new law to authorize Internet voting for registered overseas absentee voters, since the poll body “promulgate rules and regulations and consequently, implement other means of overseas voting that are more reliable, secure, and efficient.”
Tolentino said noted that OFWs, particularly seafarers, have been deprived of their right to vote in the past elections since they are at sea most of the time.
While the current process allows seafarers to vote by going to the nearest embassy or consular post during the 30-day voting period, Tolentino stressed that most seafarers are at sea for six months, which is the usual duration of their respective contracts.