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 This new legislation repealed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.)
"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.)
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.
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