Register before deadline expires, Filipinos urged

A party list representative in the Philippine Congress has called on the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in the UAE to register before the September 30 deadline set by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for overseas absentee registrants.

By Ramona Ruiz

Published: Sat 27 Sep 2003, 11:54 AM

Last updated: Tue 15 Nov 2022, 11:53 AM

"I hope a significant percentage of our countrymen in the UAE register before the deadline expires. Absentee voting is not only about the rights of OFWs to vote but also about their right to participate in shaping the destiny of our country. We all know that their economic contributions, significant as it is, is not enough to bring substantive reforms in our country," Congressman Mario Joyo Aguja, the second party-list representative of Akbayan Citizens' Action Party in Congress told Khaleej Times.

Mr. Aguja, who'd recently visited Dubai and Abu Dhabi to create awareness of the overseas absentee voting law, is among the 19 party-list representatives in Congress

"Our country's problem is not only economic, but also political. As such, exercising the right to vote is a political contribution. When we elect good people in government, reforms are most likely to happen. I know that many of our OFWs are frustrated with our elections - often remembered for guns, goons and gold. That's the very reason why we have to push for the modernisation of our electoral system," he said.

Officials at the Philippine Embassy in Abu Dhabi have noted a considerable increase in the number of registrants in the UAE. As of September 20, the embassy has recorded 5,836 registrants, while a total of 3,268 OFWs have registered in the Office of the Labour Attache in Dubai. Once the applications are approved, the absentee voters are entitled to vote for their president, vice-president and party-list representatives in the May 2004 national elections.

Mr. Aguja, meanwhile, congratulated the OFWs in Dubai for their collective efforts which won them the right to register in the area. "It's through our collective initiatives that possibilities become limitless. That's what's meant by active citizenship and participatory democracy," he said.

Earlier, under the Comelec guidelines, OFWs in the UAE were only allowed to register in the Philippine embassy in Abu Dhabi. The approval for an establishment of a field registration centre in Dubai came on July 28, following a petition letter signed by OFWs in Dubai and endorsed by the embassy.

Mr Aguja said that OFWs should not limit themselves to just voting in May but should also actively participate during the campaign period by organising and participating in information and educational activities on the qualifications and platforms of the different candidates and political parties, including those in the party list system.

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