NO ABSENTEE VOTING FOR 2.7M PINOYS ABROAD?
Manila, Jan.25, 2003 (Malaya) - Sen. Aquilino Pimentel yesterday described as "unkind and insensitive" a plan agreed upon by members of the bicameral committee to exclude Filipino immigrants from voting under the absentee voting bill.
"The idea to exclude permanent residents or immigrant Filipinos ... is unjust," he said. Sources from the Senate and foreign affairs department on Thursday said that the bicameral panel agreed to exclude overseas Filipinos in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and immigrants and illegal workers from enjoying voting rights.
Saudi Arabia has the biggest number of OFWs, about 900,000 working as household helpers, factory workers, office clerks, sales persons, and teachers, among others.
Pimentel said disallowing immigrants from participating in the elections would convert some 2.7 million Filipinos who are permanently residing abroad into "stateless persons."
Sources at the Senate said Pimentel's position is supported by some senators and congressmen.
The issue, the sources said, remains "hot" among the members of the bicameral panel.
The sources said that this issue, plus whether or not to adopt the "sunset" clause in the House version, have yet to be threshed out by the bicameral body.
The sunset clause states that the proposed law will be good only for the 2004 elections and Congress will decide if the law will remain.
The clause is not included in the Senate version, which maintains that the absentee voting right is a right that should be perpetually granted to all Filipinos working and living abroad.
Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
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