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Thursday, March 30, 2006

Absentee voting book still good read amid charter change bids


QUEZON CITY--WHAT’S blue and nearing obsolescence but still worth reading?It’s the book entitled “Overseas Absentee Voting: The Philippine Experience,” whose author is preventing the issue from dying amid renewed efforts to change the country’s constitution.
Not that author and lawyer Henry Rojas is bothered over potential revenue loss from his book’s sale—at P250 or just under US$5 each from publisher and nonprofit group Center for Migrant Advocacy (CMA)-Philippines; Rojas is afraid overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) may again miss out on the deal.“If charter change pushes through, the right to vote of overseas Filipinos might be taken away again,” Rojas told the OFW Journalism Consortium.
He said opposing moves to change the 10-year-old Philippine Constitution is a “logical option.”
The book offers keen insight on an instrument of suffrage that dates back to a hundred years when Australians first enacted overseas voting under its Commonwealth Electoral Act of 1902.The 225-page “blue book,” printed with money from the OFW Journalism Consortium’s partner Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, shows the nuts and bolts of Republic Act 9189, or the Overseas Absentee Voting Act of 2003.
While the book is a strain to read, full of legalese speak and lacking literary flair, it provides an astute look on the circuitous law and its application in the 2004 elections. Rojas offered this reason for getting through the quagmire of legalese: “Active participation in elections is one of the many ways we contribute to nation building. Thus, the right and opportunity to vote as an absentee voter are too important to be treated lightly.”
The books is designed to help overseas Filipinos and NGOs in their advocacy efforts for reforms in the enacted law and in Philippine elections, and to help them grasp the complexity of the country’s immediate electoral history. (

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