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(Updated 8:27 p.m.) The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has extended the deadline for renewing the license of overseas absentee voters from December 21 to early January next year.
In their original Resolution No. 9567 released Monday, the Comelec said the 238,557 OAVs "who failed to vote during the 2010 and 2007 elections should now be removed or delisted from the National Registry of Overseas Absentee Voters (NROAV)."
Republic Act 9189 or the Overseas Absentee Voting Act states that the entries in the NROAV can only be amended “when the OAV’s name was ordered removed by the Commission … for his/her failure to exercise his/her right to vote under this Act for two consecutive national elections.” Commissioner Lucenito Tagle, chairman of the Committee on OAV, told GMA News Online that he is proposing to move the deadline to January 15. "[It's] such a short time, ilang days na lang. Paano aabot sa mga posts ang mga OAVs? To give them more chance and opportunity to exercise their right of suffrage, sabi namen i-extend natin," Tagle said. Commissioner Rene Sarmiento, however, said they are planning to reset it to January 7 instead.Sarmiento said they will amend the resolution to reflect that they would merely "deactivate" the licenses of the OAVs instead of delisting it.
"Lilinawin namin. We will just clarify kasi medyo nakakalito na sila naman, hindi naman automatic na tanggal. So pag bumalik sila, sila po ay reactivated," Sarmiento told reporters on Tuesday.
The Comelec en banc initially ruled that they would give the affected migrant voters a chance to file a manifestation to participate in the May 2013 elections not later than December 21.
“Only after the failure of the concerned AOV to submit the required application within the given period shall their names be removed from the NROAV,” the Comelec said in the three-page resolution.
Sarmiento said they moved the deadline to January to consider the "unique situation of OAVs" - such as the distance of their residences to the embassies, consulates, among other posts where they can file their manifestations, the expenses for the transportation to register posts, among others.
"An extension of the date will be added to give them more time... Because 'yung iba 'yung sitwasyon ng mga nasa Middle East, malalayo 'yan. Pamasahe 'yan, gastos nila. Kinonsider namin ‘yan," Sarmiento said.
The OAVs may file their manifestation to participate with the different embassies, consulates or foreign service establishments, which will then forward the manifestations to the Comelec’s Committee on Overseas Absentee Voting.
The poll body said the manifestation must indicate the post where the AOVs were registered as well as their maternal middle name and birth date to “ascertain their identity.”
Around 915,000 have registered overseas for the 2013 elections, according to the Comelec. The figure is higher than the 589,830 registrants for the 2010 elections.
According to a latest report by the Committee on Overseas Absentee Voting, it has received a total of 393,151 application forms for OAV registration as of December 10, a 62 percent increase from 242,767 forms recorded in September.
Of the application forms, 18.6 percent or 73,150 came from Middle East and Africa, 13.3 percent or 52,242 came from North and Latin America, 13.2 percent or 52,042 came from Asia and the Pacific, and 10.6 percent or 41,480 came from Europe.
The number is expected to be reduced once the Election Regulatory Board meet this month to remove the list of multiple registrants.
The voter’s registration for migrant workers ended last October 31. — RSJ/KBK GMA News