Monday, 17 October 2011
Edna, Loida, Ver, Atty. Lolit, Fe, Mely -
I wish all of you well.
I just arrived from the PHL where we were able to submit our request to the Comelec to waive the return affidavit condition for overseas voters on the day I left. For those of you who are not clear on this issue, let me briefly explain to all as it is a very important issue: The Overseas Voting Act law provides that in order for overseas Filipinos to register to vote - they need to sign an affidavit promising to reside in the Philippines within three years after registering or else face criminal charges.
As such, this onerous return affidavit requirement has scared many potential voters from registering.
USP4GG is taking efforts to do away with this onerous affidavit either through legislative amendment or through judicial arguments based on existing case law. The request i prepared f or Comelec to waive this return affidavit requirement was submitted on the day I left. It is based on judicial arguments.
In 2006, Loida Nicolas-Lewis together with nine Fil-Ams filed a petition to the Philippine Supreme Court for Mandamus and Certiorari (- ignore these mysterious lawyer words-) asking the Court to affirm their right to vote as dual citizens and whether or not the return affidavit applies to them. The Court ruled in their favor.
The Comelec however applied the ruling for dual citizens alone but not for single citizen overseas Filipinos in the last elections. I argued in this request to the Comelec that such an interpretation of Nicolas-Lewis v Comelec is a violation of equal protection of the laws principles. The former Supreme Court Justice who presided in Nicolas-Lewis v Comelec fortunately agrees with our analysis. So let's see.
I just received an acknowledg ement by email from the office of the Comelec Chairman that they have included our request in their agenda when the Commissioners meet en banc in the next ten days. If we prevail on this level, we need not seek a legislative solution which can be a lengthy and vexatious process. If not, we simply go to the Supreme Court for clarification on an earlier ruling in the case of Nicolas-Lewis v Comelec.
Thank you for the suggested ideas re a global organization of overseas Pinoys. I need a few days to normalize my hours, attend to a few hearings in court here in San Francisco and put all of our ideas together.
It was great meeting all of you. We are trailblazing through new pathways in organizing a true
global organization that will truly affect in good ways the lives of our fellow Filipinos in our homeland and everywhere else in the world. This is made possible by our coming together in the Summit meeting in the Philippines and the ease of communication via the Internet. The work we do to create a better Philippines and helping our fellow Filipinos is truly sacred work which gives much meaning to our lives - which will last beyond our lifetimes.