Did you know that the Filipino Overseas Absentee Voting Law affects your family? You get to vote for the President, the Vice President, 12 Senators and a party-list representative in a national election in the Philippines. What would these officials do if you in the diaspora elected them to office?
It depends on the needs of your family. More food on the table, good education and stable jobs for children or owning a house comes to mind. And these are also true to every family in the Philippines. Needs must be specific to you to get noticed.
Issues and concerns of Overseas Filipino Workers and immigrants can dwarf other challenges facing any Philippine government. The two needs below are unique to the Filipino diaspora as they directly affect the family.
The process of getting the exit clearance could be frustrating. This article describes it as an OFW's nightmare! No waiting means just that. You get your medical exam results on the same day. You don't have to fall in line. You go straight to the processing window. You don't have to wait for the staff to open the window.
There is no wiggle room there. Don't settle for anything less. This is a matter of efficiency and public service. The whole bureaucracy is not at fault. And the public service does not lack efficiency bright spots where the public is satisfied in a service.
The system needs to change to address your needs as OFWs. The exit clearance process should not take away precious time with your family. In a matter of days you would go (back) abroad. No waiting means you can put more time to good use with your family.
Imagine a web portal showing the exchange rate, fee and speed of remittance services in your host country and giving advice on how best to send money. This will force money transfer agents to improve their services and lower their fees.
Philippine banks and local and international money transfer services may have branches in your place. What if you can go to this web portal and compare their services? You can choose the right service to ensure the money reaches your family on time. And your savings for every transaction means more money for your family.
Your elected officials may learn from the UK in this area. The UK government funded such a website to lower costs of sending money abroad as a service to its migrant workers. Now the website earns income mainly from ads. Read more about this here.
Can these be done through overseas absentee voting? If there's a vote, theres a way! Change is hard due to various reasons. But how hard could it be if you have the President by your side? No one ignores the power behind the throne.
The best way to force the issues is through the ballot. You need to go to the nearest Philippine post to register, or to any Philippine post if you are a seafarer. Find the nearest post here. If you are not familiar with the place, use Google Map!
It's not really hard to find the Philippine Embassy or Consulate, is it? Now think about the time when you would normally be near the embassy or consulate. If you happen to be near the embassy, you wouldn't have to go out of your way to get there and register.
You can also register at Terminals 1 and 2 of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, at the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) office and at the POEA office. This suits you if you are going abroad the first time or returning to your work abroad. You need to show your passport, fill up a form and you're done!
You just made the first step. You already have the address of the nearest Philippine embassy or consulate and how to go there. Those issues affecting your family in the Philippines wont change on their own. You need to participate in the overseas absentee voting for Filipinos to make change happen.