Migrant Group Questions Government’s Sincerity, Political Will in Implementing Overseas Absentee Voting

Aside for shortening the already limited registration period, Migrante International also criticized the Department of Budget and Management for transferring the OAV budget from Comelec to the Department of Foreign Affairs when RA 9198 or the Overseas Absentee Voting act stipulates that the enforcement, administration and implementation of OAV is exclusive to the Comelec, while other government agencies are only mandated to assist.

Migrante has urged the Department of Foreign Affairs to show the accounting of expenses for the OAV beginning when the fund was given to them. Migrante wants to know why last December 2008, the implementation of the OAV registration was suspended due purportedly to “budget problems.”

In 2007, Comelec received a P239 million ($5,174, 952 at the 2007 exchange rate of $1=P46.184) budget for the OAV election. This did not yet include the expenses incurred for the OAV registration on the same year. While Migrante still do not have the data on how much money was transferred to the hands of the DFA, they said, the figures would be close to the last budget allocated for OAV to the Comelec.

“We find it very curious that the DFA was able to get the OAV fund at a time when President Arroyo’s expensive trips abroad are being questioned because of their lavish dinners, the unofficial visits to the US and Hongkong and the undeclared assets of his sons abroad,” Migrante International chairperson Garry Martinez said in a statement.

“This is the first time that we are going to hold nationwide automated elections, but the Comelec has not yet released directives on how they would go about with the counting of votes in the OAV,” Santos said. “Who would keep an eye on them when here in our very own country, electoral fraud is rampant. How much more for the counting of votes purely controlled by the embassy or the consulate?” he added.

“The government has the resources and the machinery to take the OAV seriously. But they still lacked the political will to implement it.” Santos told Bulatlat. (Bulatlat.com)

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