LAWMAKER WANTS ABSENTEE VOTING LAW REPEALED

MANILA,  JUNE 8, 2004
(STAR) 
By Delon Porcalla  -  A member of the 22-man joint committee canvassing the votes for president and vice president suggested yesterday that the absentee voting law be repealed since it wasted taxpayers’ money in the last elections.

Biliran Rep. Gerry Espina said the law should "be repealed or amended in order to avoid unnecessary and exorbitant expenses" that reportedly cost the government at least P400 million when it was first implemented this year. The absentee voters were allowed to cast their votes for national positions and a party-list group.

He cited that in the second day of the congressional canvass, "no less than eight countries showed that no one voted in these countries." This means that even the consuls — much less the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) — assigned there did not cast their votes.

Less than 150 Filipinos in Australia cast their ballots while zero votes were tallied in Norway, Uganda, Romania, Botswana, Mozambique, Mali, Paraguay, Portugal, Yemen and Senegal, according to the list made by the Koalisyon ng Katapatan at Karanasan sa Kinabukasan.

"The very few number of voters who voted in the different countries do not justify the amount of money spent by the government," Espina said. "This does not justify the election paraphernalia used and the expenses in sending these abroad, including the expenses incurred for the personnel sent to implement the law in these countries."

Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr. said Congress allocated P100 million to the Department of Foreign Affairs and P300 million to the Commission on Elections just for the conduct of absentee voting.

"But even the consuls or staff members of the embassies didn’t vote," he said, noting that out of six million OFWs in 74 countries, only 300,000 "or even less" voted. — with Katherine Adraneda


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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