ABS-CBN News : Comelec official suspects having to buy stamp stopping overseas Filipinos from voting

News & Interviews
9 September 2021

By Sherwin Tinampay | ABS-CBN News

MANILA - There is an average of 1.3 million Filipino voters overseas but only an estimated 60 percent of this number voted during the 2019 elections. The rest may have skipped voting because they had to buy their own stamps to mail their vote, a poll official said.

Commission on Elections Commissioner Rowena Guanzon, in an online interview with Karen Davila Thursday, said Filipino workers who are registered to vote may have been dissuaded from doing so because they had to go out of their way to buy stamps for their return envelopes.

"Ang isang reason why maraming, sa malayo, hindi makaboto by mail, kasi puwede pong sa overseas mag-mail-in ballot, wala po silang pambili ng stamp kasi lalabas pa sila, bibili ng stamp, ihuhulog sa box," Guanzon said.

(One reason why those in the far places could not vote by mail, because overseas, the voters could mail in their ballot, is because they do not have the means to buy stamp because they have to go out to buy the stamp to drop the mail in the box.)

Philippine voters overseas can choose either personal, postal or a mixed method of voting for #Halalan2022.

Guanzon said that the agency allotted budget to purchase Comelec's own stamps for overseas workers who will opt for postal voting. However, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) slashed their budget allocation for overseas voting.

"Sinisita nila ang Comelec dahil ang overseas voters hindi makaboto, eh wala nga po kaming stamp. Wala kayo sa aming binibigay na stamp. 'Yung DBM laging sina-slash 'yung budget namin sa stamps. So, 'yan, magandang malaman nila na wala pala," she said.

(They are calling out the Comelec because OFWs cannot vote, it's because we don't have stamps. They are not giving us budget for stamps. DBM slashed our stamps budget. It's good that the people know that we don't have our own stamps.)

Guanzon said that the Comelec sought an P800-million budget allocation for overseas voting but DBM only approved P111 million.

"Kaya nga po sayang kasi makakaboto talaga 'yung mga kasambahay doon (sa abroad) kung may stamp lamang 'yung return envelope namin pero wala eh. Baka naman po this time, baka naman po madagdagan kami kung nakikinig po sila," she said.

(It's saddening because Filipino house workers overseas can vote if only our return envelopes have enclosed stamps but we don't. If they're listening, maybe this time they can give us the budget.)