Following the Supreme Court order to extend the registration of voters, as petitioned by a party-list group, a group of overseas Filipinos on Friday asked that a similar extension be extended to voters based abroad.
In her petition filed with the Commission on Elections (Comelec), Maritess Salientes Bloom, a Filipina residing in Boston, Massachussetts, requested for 28 additional days for the registration of overseas absentee voters.
Registration for overseas absentee voting (OAV) was held from February 1 to August 31, 2009.
In her petition, Bloom stated that the August 31 deadline for registration "is utterly insufficient to accomodate first time [overseas] youth registrants and voters."
Filipinos in certain countried have complained about how far Philippine embassies or consulates are from their areas, so it's difficult for them to register.
The petition also called for "equal protection of law," in which the Supreme Court's decision to extend local registration should be applied to them.
'Our dollars help'
Loida Lewis, chairman emeritus of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA), told reporters Friday that the petition is "a very legitimate request" as it shows their "fundamental right as a citizen."
"Maanu naman bang they give us the right to register and vote. That's very simple we're asking as Filipinos," Lewis added, as she explained how dollar remittances of OFWs helped the local economy.
Lewis, who represented the petitioner, said they should have asked for 4 months extension of registration. She said that the local registration started 2 months ahead of the OAV registration, but still the OAV registration ended 2 months earlier.
"Lugi na kami ng 4 months. Pero ang hinihingi lang namin, by taking the exact application of the law, meron pa kaming 28 days," she said.
Lewis met on Friday with Commissioner Armando Velasco, who handles OAV affairs. Velasco told Lewis that he will be bringing the petition to their en banc meeting on Monday.
Final list already printed
Lewis expects that the poll body will immediately decide on the petition and hopefully start the extended registration on January 15, 5 days after the en banc meeting. If this schedule will push through, OAV extended registration will end on February 14. "If you give it to us next week, just say it's a valentine's gift."
But in an interview with reporters, Velasco said that they might have a hard time implementing the extension of OAV registration, since the list of OAV has been finalized last month.
"Mukhang mahihirapan kami na mag-implement. Na-print na ang certified list of voters, ready na for distribution," he said.