Philippine Embassy In Ottawa Kicks Off Overseas Absentee Voting With Community Dialogue

Embassy Corner

Philippine Ambassador to Canada Jose S. Brillantes launched the Overseas Absentee Voting registration for the 2010 elections by hosting a Dialogue with the Filipino Community at the Ambassador’s Residence, Tahanang Rizal, on 30 January 2009.

The Dialogue and Dinner, which was attended by Filipino community leaders from Ottawa, Montreal and Kingston, was timed to kick-off the resumption of overseas voter registration which started on 01 February and will continue to 31 August 2009.

During the forum, Ambassador Brillantes discussed developments in the Philippines, while Minister and Consul General Joseph Gerard B. Angeles talked about the Embassy’s consular services, the benefits of Dual Citizenship, and the Overseas Absentee Voting act. The Filipino community leaders also discussed their organizations’ plans for 2009.

Ambassador Brillantes said the Filipino community in Canada, particularly those under the jurisdiction of the Philippine Embassy in Ottawa, registered one of the highest, if not the highest, percentage increases in overseas absentee voters all over the world, with a 1,000% improvement over the previous registration period.

“Filipinos in Canada have always maintained a keen interest in the Philippine political process,” Ambassador Brillantes said. “By starting off OAV registration with a Dialogue, we hope to nurture the participation of Filipinos in Canada in the Philippine democratic process,” he added.

During the registration period, Filipinos, 18 years old and above, working and living abroad, can register for the 10 May 2010 presidential and senatorial elections. Personal appearance is required for the biometrics capture of photograph, thumbprint, and signature.

Other requirements include: a valid Philippine passport or in its absence, a Department of Foreign Affairs certification (as most employers of household service workers in the Middle East get their passports); and an accomplished OAV registration / certification form which is available at the Embassy or Consulate or can be downloaded from the Comelec website: http:www.comelec.gov.ph

Seafarers, who get to register and vote in posts where their ship may happen to be during the election period, also need to present a photocopy of Seaman’s Book or proof of being a seafarer.

Filipinos who retained a re-acquired their Filipino citizenship under Republic Act 9225 granting dual citizenship also need to present the original or certified true copy of the Order of Approval of Application, or their Philippine passport.

All qualified Filipinos abroad can go to Philippine embassies, consulates and other foreign-service offices to register, while those in the process of leaving may do so at the Committee on OAV at the Comelec, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, or POEA ground floor, and the OFW Pre-Departure Lounge of the Terminal 1 of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

During the same period, previous registrants can also file or request for transfer of registration records; reinstatement in the National Registry of OAV; correction of wrong entries / misspelled names; withdrawal of application for registration / certification pending approval; or reactivation of registration record.

Questions can be directed to the nearest Embassy or Consulate, (Philippine Embassy, Ottawa: (613) 233-1121; Philippine Consulate General, Vancouver: (604) 685-7645; Philippine Consulate General, Toronto: (416) 922-7181; or at the Comelec’s Committee on Overseas Absentee Voting at (632) 522-2251, (632)521-2952, or (632) 523-9924; and at their website, http://www.comelec.gov.ph, as well as the DFA Overseas Absentee Voting Secretariat at (632) 833-0914 or (632) 832-8363; and at their website, http://www.dfa.gov.ph.

Ambassador Brillantes and other election and foreign officials see more Filipinos overseas enlisting and participating for the 2010 elections since it is the presidency is at stake. Over a traditional Filipino dinner of special party dishes that the Ambassador hosted during the Community Dialogue, Ambassador Brillantes challenged the community leaders to fire up their constituents to participate in the Philippine democratic process.

“If we want change to happen, we should be involved,” Ambassador Brillantes said. “Let us be responsible Filipinos, let us register and let our voices be heard,” he added.

Photo 1: Ambassador Jose S. Brillantes welcomes Filipino Community to his official residence, Tahanang Rizal, for a Dialogue

Photo 2: Consul General Angeles discusses Dual Citizenship and Overseas Absentee Voting