MIGRANTS BLOCKED FROM ABSENTEE VOTING

Manila, Jan. 22, 2003 - The Absentee Voting Bill has been passed by Congress.

According to the report, opposition Senator Edgardo Angara, head of the Senate committee for constitutional amendments, proclaimed this triumph for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) with the AVB set to be ratified after passing at the Senate.

In this version of the bill, OFWs can now vote in national elections for president, vice-president, senators, and partylist representatives. However, the bill only services OFWs as Filipino migrants will not be able to take advantage of the bill's benefits.

OFWs must first personally register in any Philippine embassy or consulate and then later vote either through person or through an accomplished ballot via mail. Qualified voters must also bring proof of their citizenship, i.e. their passports.

On the other hand, candidates for the aforementioned positions will be allowed for the first time to campaign outside the country.

Once both versions of the Senate and the House of Representatives are resolved, the bill will be ratified and passed on to the executive branch for the signature of President Gloria Arroyo. (Star)


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