5M OVERSEAS PINOYS EXPECTED TO VOTE IN 2004  

Manila, March 3, 2003 -- The Commission on Elections is looking at registering by May the nearly 5 million Filipinos who will participate in the first absentee voting system next year.

Comelec chairman Benjamin Abalos said yesterday based on the implementing rules and regulations the Comelec is drafting for the absentee voting law, the poll body is eyeing to have a three-month registration period for Filipinos overseas.

He said the Comelec is tentatively scheduling the registration period of Filipinos abroad from May 5 to August 5.

Abalos said he expects the Comelec to finalize the IRR with the labor and foreign affairs departments by tomorrow. He said the finalized IRR will be sent to the congressional oversight committee this week.

"We are really accelerating the IRR ... We do not have the luxury of time," Abalos said.

Under the proposed IRR, Filipinos who will participate in the absentee voting scheme will need to secure a certification from the Comelec before they can vote in the 2004 elections.

The Comelec's certification will provide overseas Filipino with an absentee voter's identification card, which will be a requirement for them to vote. Ordinarily, qualified voters in the Philippines do not have to show a voter's ID, unless the poll clerk questions the identity of the voter.

Filipinos abroad would need to register with RP diplomatic offices. They would be required to bring a valid passport or a National Statistics Office-authenticated birth certificate.

Filipinos who expect to be abroad during the May elections may register in local Comelec offices.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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