Carlo's Think Pieces

Reflections of a Filipino in the Netherlands

Posts Tagged ‘Overseas Filipino’

I mailed in my vote today

Posted by butalidnl on 23 March 2010

I mailed in my vote for the Philippine elections today. I received the election “kit” about three weeks ago, but I only did it today.  Part of the delay is having to get a stamp pad for the fingerprint. The rest of the delay, I guess, is that  it was still some time till it HAD to be sent in.

Well, I mailed the ballot to the Philippine embassy in The Hague, where it will stay unopened till 10 May. The ballot is an “old fashioned” manual one; you have to write down the names of the candidates you select. On 10 May, the votes will be counted, and the returns will then be sent in to the Philippines.

Obviously, I am a Filipino citizen; although this is really not that obvious, since many Filipinos here in the Netherlands are no longer Filipino citizens.  I “regained” my Filipino in September 2003, and immediately registered to vote. However, during the 2004 elections, I was disqualified from voting because I had not been a Filipino for a whole year by this time. (I thought that this was rather ironic, having been born a Filipino.) Anyway, I was sent election materials in 2007, and now also in 2010.

I was one of those who campaigned for the right of Overseas Filipinos to vote in Philippine elections. I had been campaigning for this right since about 1992, making me one of the few in Europe who campaigned for it that early. I was one of the delegates during the 2001 Overseas Filipino delegation’s visit to lobby for the bill; visiting the President, the Senate, Congress and Comelec during the time. So, when the Overseas Absentee Voting bill passed, followed shortly by the passing of the Dual Citizenship law, I took it as my obligation (and privilege) to “regain” my Filipino citizenship, and register as a voter.

By voting, I affirm my being part of the Filipino nation, and that I am doing my part by participating in the exercise of elections.  I know that many people think that our votes don’t count, and that the rich and powerful will continue to get their way nevertheless. But I believe that every little thing that ordinary citizens do does count.

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Posted in Overseas Filipinos, Philippine politics, Philippines | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Beyond Protecting Overseas Filipino “Charter Rights”

Posted by butalidnl on 17 July 2006

During the recent visit of the Global Forum Mission to Manila from 28 June to 6 July 2006, the main point that they made was on the need to project the need to protect the “charter rights of Global Filipinos”. The news reports on this visit was fair but low key. After all, it stressed that Filipinos abroad were merely wanting to participate in the debate on Charter Change, since the process so far excluded us from making suggestions or even eventually from voting on them. This is a very good starting point, since participation in the process of discussing constitutional changes is a prerequisite to even thinking about what changes we would want.

The next point that was made during the Mission was on the need to have direct representation of Filipinos abroad in a future parliament. This would involve electing Overseas Filipino (OF) representatives who reside abroad to the Phil. parliament. [I think that as of the present rules, one must be a resident of the Philippines in order to be qualified to run for public office.]

I would suggest that the issue of “charter rights of Global Filipinos” could be taken one step further. This would involve inserting a series of constitutional provisions, even perhaps a whole section in the constitution, in order to secure both our “charter rights” as well as help ensure our maximum participation in Philippine politicial, social and economic life.

Such a section could include provisions such as:
– the right to vote, and to run for elective office, for all Filipinos abroad;
– the option for dual citizenship;
– recognition of Filipino-owned cooperatives and businesses formed abroad (could be limited to OECD countries) as Filipino cooperatives and businesses;
– the treatment of investments of natural-born Filipinos (including those already having foreign passports) as “Filipino” – thereby opening sectors of the economy reserved for Filipinos also to Overseas Filipinos;
– the government’s commitment to strengthen social, cultural and political ties with the Overseas Filipino communities;
– democratic consultations with Overseas Filipino communities regarding the work of Philippine consulates.

Of course, the contents of such an “Overseas Filipino Section” for the Philippine constitution should be the subject of a lot of discussions both among Overseas Filipinos and also with Philippine partners.

The point that is important to note is that with the big and growing role of Overseas Filipinos in Philippine society, it is important to provide both adequate protection to OFs as well as facilitate the maximum contribution of OFs to Philippine development.

Posted in charter change, Overseas Filipinos | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Charter Change and Overseas Filipinos

Posted by butalidnl on 25 May 2006

Charter change, or amending the constitution, is a proposal that literally does not include Overseas Filipinos. In the first place, we were not consulted in the process of proposing changes to the constitution. Also, if it finally comes to a referendum on whether or not to accept the constitution, we will not be able to participate. The Overseas Absentee Voting Law, which entitles us Overseas Filipinos to vote, excludes us from participating in referenda and plebiscites.

The government-sponsored proposed amendments to the constitution will also disenfranchise us from participating in Philippine elections. Under the present Overseas Absentee Voting Law, Overseas Filipinos could vote for national posts:i.e. president, vice president, senators and partylist members of the House of Representatives. Under the proposed shift to the parliamentary system these posts will disappear: the president and the prime minister will be voted on by parliament, the Senate will disappear, and even the partylist system will be replaced. This all means that the so-called Charter Change proposal will keep us Overseas Filipinos outside of the Philippine electoral process.

This is not to say that Overseas Filipinos do not have anything to gain from changing the constitution. It’s just that the proposed changes as they now stand will negate our gains so far. We would be more in favor of amendments that will improve our standing as Overseas Filipinos. For one, it would be good to have a number of congress (or parliament) seats allotted to Overseas Filipinos. Also, there could be a clearer framework that would protect our rights while at the same time encourage us to maximize our contribution to Philippine development. These kinds of provisions could all be part of an “Overseas Filipino section” within the constitution. Our role and potential contributions to Philippine society and its economy should warrant such a section.

Posted in charter change, Overseas Filipinos, Philippine politics, Philippines, politics | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »