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Eleksyon 2013

After low voter turnout, Drilon eyes review of overseas absentee voting law

May 23, 2013 7:29pm

Sen. Franklin Drilon will seek a “review” on the law on overseas absentee voting following the dismal turnout of overseas voters in the recently concluded elections.

Drilon, author of the Overseas Absentee Voting Act or Republic Act 9189, said this is one of the first things he'll do when the 16th Congress opens in July.

“We will ask the appropriate committees, we will file the appropriate resolution,” he told reporters at a forum on Thursday.

Drilon particularly wants to know how the law is being implemented by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) as the lead agency and Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) as the supporting agency.

He also wants to know how the P43.4 million budget for the overseas absentee voting was spent.

“Both Comelec and DFA, when session opens, and at the appropriate time, at the committee hearing, [or during] budget or electoral reforms committee [deliberations], we will ask them how the budget was spent,” Drilon said.

Low turnout

The senator said based on the low turnout of votes from abroad, it seems like the government spent around P1,300 for every vote cast. He also said overseas Filipino voters had complained of inefficiencies in the voting system.

“Our estimate is that we spent over P1,300 per capita for each vote cast by our overseas Filipinos. I am getting initial reports about the inefficiencies particularly in the addresses in the voters' list and therefore the voting by  mail has not been effective, and has resulted in just 15 percent of the registered voters casting their ballots on election day,” Drilon said

However, when speaking about the Comelec suggestion that overseas Filipinos vote online, Drilon was lukewarm, saying before such a suggestion can be considered, the sanctity of the ballot must first be assured.

“We have to open our minds to this systems given the advances in IT. But let us not forget that the sanctity of the ballot should not be compromised. Yes I am open to suggestions. I just want assurances that the sanctity of the ballot will not be  compromised by such systems,” he said.

The Overseas Absentee Voting Act was enacted in February 2003. — KBK, GMA News
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