Overseas voting: Our modern-day heroes' future

Before COVID-19, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) records showed that at least two million Filipinos leave the nation each year to work overseas. According to the PSA's 2019 Report on Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), about 2.2 million OFWs worked abroad between April and September 2019, with 97 percent being overseas contract workers (OCWs) or those with current work contracts. OFWs are a subset of the total number of Filipinos living abroad, estimated by the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO, 2013) to be 10.2 million Filipinos living in more than 200 destination countries and territories worldwide. According to the estimate, there were around 4.8 million permanent migrants, 4.2 million temporary migrants or land-based and sea-based (OFWs), and 1.2 million irregular migrants, or those without legitimate residence or work permits.

The Commission on Filipinos Overseas is encouraging all qualified overseas Filipinos to register as overseas voters and vote in the forthcoming national elections in May 2022. This is part of the CFO's commitment to assist the Commission on Elections and the Department of Foreign Affairs with implementing the overseas voting procedure. CFO Secretary Francisco P. Acosta signed a deal with migrant servicing agencies in February 2020 to establish Local Field Registration Centers for Overseas Voting. According to Acosta, "the adoption of overseas voting improves the democratic system in the Philippines by allowing overseas Filipinos who have been steadfast partners in Philippine growth and nation-building to participate in Philippine elections."

These activities conform with R.A. No. 10590 (Overseas Voting Act of 2013) mandates the CFO to assist the COMELEC in facilitating overseas registration and voting operations and expediting all election activities. As of February 28, 2022, the Asia-Pacific Region had 450,282 registered overseas voters, the European Region had 153,491, the Middle East and African Region had 786,997, and the North and Latin American Region had 306,445. The overall total of registered overseas voters is 1,697,215.

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