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The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Monday asked Congress to pass a bill that would allow overseas Filipino workers (OFW) to vote via the Internet.
"I understand that there is now a pending bill both in the House and in the Senate. We're actually moving very hard that this bill be passed into law," Comelec chair Sixto Brillantes Jr. said during a hearing of the congressional oversight committee on suffrage on Monday.
Under existing Philippine laws, voters need to vote personallly in the precinct where they are registered.
Under Republic Act 9189 or the Overseas Absentee Voting Act, however, qualified and registered Filipinos abroad are allowed to vote in their respective embassies.
Republic Act 7166 or the Local Absentee Voting Act likewise allows government officials and employees, as well as members of the military and police force, who are on duty during the elections to vote in the places where they are not registered.
To improve the polls, Senator Ramon Bong Revilla Jr. filed Senate Bill 2401 which seeks to amend RA 9189 and allow the Comelec to "explore and adopt" other more "efficient, reliable, and secure" modes or systems, whether paper-, electronic-, technology-, or Internet-based, for onsite and remote registration and voting, counting, canvassing, and consolidation of votes and transmittal of results.
Similar bills are also pending in the House of the Representatives.
Brillantes explained that the poll body has no problem on voter registration but that they may have "a very big problem" when it comes to voting itself because voter turnout has never been good abroad.
The Comelec had earlier said some 850,708 OFWs have so far registered for the 2013 elections. For the 2010 polls, there were a total of 589,830 registrants.
On Monday, however, Brillantes said only 152,000 overseas Filipino registrants voted in 2010.
If a bill on Internet voting for OFWs is passed, he said voter turnout will "easily" increase by 50 to 60 percent. - VVP, GMA News