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KASAMA Vol. 17 No. 3 / July-August-September 2003 / Solidarity Philippines Australia Network
 

2004 PHILIPPINES ELECTIONS UPDATE:
 

OVERSEAS ABSENTEE VOTING

With only fifteen days before the September 30 deadline, the Embassy of the Philippines announced that two additional consular outreach field offices in Australia, one in Melbourne and the other in Brisbane, were to be open five days each for the registration of overseas absentee voters.

For many eligible voters, especially those living in Western Australia, the Northern Territory and far north Queensland, it was still a long and expensive return journey to either Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne or Brisbane just to register. And, they will need to make a second trip when it comes time to vote!

LOW TURNOUT FOR REGISTRATION

As of September 14, only nine percent (158,000) of the estimated 1.76 million eligible overseas Filipinos have registered to vote. Ellene Sana from the Manila-based Center for Migrant Advocacy is not surprised because the provisions of the new law are cumbersome. The requirement to swear an affidavit declaring intention to resume permanent residence in the Philippines not later than three years after registration approval is particularly problematic for those who are on longer work or study contracts and for Filipinos who have permanent residence abroad.

PHILIPPINES/AUSTRALIA DUAL CITIZENSHIP

The Australian Citizenship Legislation Amendment Act 2002 took effect on 4 April 2002. This new legislation repealed Section 17 of the Australian Citizenship Act 1948 which means that Australian citizens who acquire another citizenship from that date onwards, no longer lose their Australian citizenship. Therefore Filipinos who re-acquire their Philippine citizenship as provided for by R.A. 9225, are at no risk of losing their Australian citizenship. (The Philippine Republic Act No. 9225, also known as the "Citizenship Retention and Re-acquisition Act of 2003", was signed into law by the President on 30 August 2003.)

  • See http://www.immi.gov.au/facts/90citizenship.htm
  • DFA PRESS RELEASE: DUAL CITIZENSHIP AND ABSENTEE OVERSEAS VOTING

    "The Philippine Embassies and Consulates will only be accepting applications for reacquisition of Philippine citizenship for those who will register as an overseas absentee voter. Other individuals intending to reacquire Filipino citizenship, but do not intend to register as an absentee voter may take their oath once the appropriate guidelines for R.A. 9225 have been issued. R.A. 9225 allows Filipinos who have become naturalized citizens of another country to reacquire their Philippine citizenship after taking an oath of allegiance to the Philippines."
    (Press Release No. 520-03, 18 September 2003, Department of Foreign Affairs, Philippines.)

    DUAL CITIZENSHIP MAY NOT GIVE YOU THE RIGHT TO VOTE IN MAY 2004

    Lawyer Romulo Macalintal has been widely reported in the Philippine press to have filed a petition with the Philippine Commission on Elections (Comelec) seeking a ban on the registration to vote of Filipinos who have re-acquired their citizenship under R.A. 9225 because, he says, they are not in compliance with the one-year residency requirement before the polls scheduled for May 2004. Comelec Chairman Benjamin Abalos welcomed the petition as this will allow Comelec to study the matter and make an official decision. The case is different for Filipinos abroad who had not taken an oath as citizens of other countries and remained as immigrants and permanent residents of the countries where they now live and work.

    We sent a query to the Philippine Embassy in Canberra for confirmation and/or clarification on this, but as we go to press we've still not received their reply.

    FOR MORE INFORMATION

    Centre for Migrant Advocacy - Philippines http://www.pinoy-abroad.net/
    Republic of the Philippines Commission on Elections (COMELEC) http://www.comelec.gov.ph/
    Republic of the Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs http://www.dfa.gov.ph/
    The Centre for Legislative Development http://www.cld.org/
    Commission on Filipinos Overseas http://www.cfo.gov.ph/
    Akbayan Citizens' Action Party http://www.akbayan.org/
    Official Government Portal of the Republic of the Philippines http://www.gov.ph/
    Embassy of the Philippines, Canberra, Australia http://www.philembassy.au.com/
    On Dual Citizenship under Australian Law http://www.migrante.org.au/election2004/dualcitizenzhipfaqs.htm
    Philippine Daily Inquirer Eleksyon 2004 http://ruby.inq7.net/specialfeatures/eleksyon2004/index.php
     

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