OFW – THE BEST POLITICAL ELECTORATE
The recent statement issued by the Catholic Bishop Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) that the proposed NOEL (No Election) in 2007 should be scrapped and amendments to the Constitution is not the answer to the political uncertainties in our country, is indeed a clear manifestation that the Catholic Church and the Filipino people are not yet ready for a Charter Change. It means that there will be 2007 Election.
However, the controversies of electoral fraud is somewhat discourages us to participate in the forth coming electoral process and to set right this kind of attitude, first and foremost the current electoral system should be transformed into a credible institution that can foster voter participation. Electoral reform should be introduced; cleaning up the mess of those involved in electoral maneuverings or even overhaul the entire Commission on Election and designate new personalities that could probably win back the trust of the Filipino people to our country’s electoral processes. Only then that we could perhaps gain back the momentum of hope in exercising our right of suffrage as the fundamental nature of a truly democratic nation.
Many friends asked me why I am so involved with the OAV, my answer is very simple, “I want to exercise my basic right as a responsible Filipino by casting my vote”.
Why OFW Vote? Overseas Filipino Workers community will be most likely the best political electorate, we are outside the Philippine soil, no politicians can court us or buy us out, we know in silence what is really happening in our country. We have the money, our remittances can be used as a tool to influence our families and relatives back home in choosing the best public servant that could properly lead our country to progress. Absentee voters can be a political muscle someday that could probably put back the shattered pieces of Philippine politics, “a cleansing vote” shall we say. All of these can only be achieved with our participation. That is why I am an ardent supporter of the OAV and I am urging OFW’s to register and be an absentee voter.
This is a big challenge to all of us, the OAV is already in place, it only needs our intense participation, and we should show to the world wherever we are that we are Filipinos.
OFW remittances (Year 2005, USD 10.85 B) helps a lot in rescuing and uplifting economic condition in our country and this contribution could not be discredited vis a vis as to our role in nation building. Migrant Workers is perhaps the biggest sector of Philippine Society and yet we do not have proper representation in government policy-making bodies that oversees OFW issues and concerns, more particularly in the Lower House of Congress.
We know in reality that the issues related to sad stories of our Filipina Domestic Helpers, Contract Substitution, Illegal Recruiters, Proper Legal Assistance and many more were not given proper attention from our government.
In perspective, all of these problems are because the OFW sector is in need of a political mandate and we have to admit that we lack the virtue of patriotism among our ranks. We continue to advocate changes but we ourselves are fragmented on issues and trends that concern OFW’s in general. Following this cynical political judgment, OFW groups are scattered around the globe, how could we ever unite to pursue a common grounds in our fight for OFW recognition and Empowerment even for the fact that there is already a chance for us to put up a national leadership through the existing OAV law?
Do we need physically together to attain this vision? The answer is NO; all we need is attachments even in the absence of physical aspect. We only need to register as an absentee voter and through a unified collective effort we can build the foundation for the creation of an OFW National Leadership. This can only be achieved if others will give way to a so-called unification process. Then all of the above mentioned problems would be addressed accordingly.
OFW Party List
Do we need a solid OFW Party List group to address these problems in a political point of view? In my opinion the answer is Yes! But the problem continues, in the previous elections many OFW groups vying for a seat in Congress, but nobody knows they even exist. First, the lack of awareness campaign of what party list is all about. Second, we don’t know the names of OFW groups wanting to send their members to Congress. That’s the reason most of us usually skip the space in our ballot for the party list representative because we don’t know who they are.
AKO MUNA Party List
One of the OFW Party List Group that didn’t make it in Congress was GABAY formed in Saudi Arabia. Even the Migrante Sectoral Party whose membership scattered in other countries didn’t make it too. For our reference the following were OFW groups vying for a seat in Congress in the previous election:
1.Ang Lakas ng Overseas Contract Workers (ANG LAKAS OCW)
2.Ang Bagong Bayani-OFW Labor Party (OFW)
3.Pinoy OCWs and Seafarers Solidarity Party (Pinoy Overseas Party-KAIBIGAN-UFS Coalition)
4.Visayan Association of the Philippines (BISA)
5.Bagong Bayani Party
6.Party for Overseas Workers’ Empowerment and Reintegration (POWER)
7.Migrante Sectoral Party
8.Bagong Bayani Organization (Bagong Bayani)
9.Union of the Filipino Overseas Workers (Unifil), Inc. (OCW-UNIFIL)
10. Gabay ng Manggagawang Pilipino Party (Gabay OFW Party)
11. Maritime Party
12. GLobal Filipinos
Correct me if I’m wrong but so far in my knowledge these are the only list of the OFW Groups I’ve known. What more to the ordinary absentee voters who are not concern of what is Party List group is.
As of this writing I’ve heard that new OFW groups is going to emerge in Al Khobar and Riyadh adding more lists to the long rolls of OFW party list seeking political mandate for OFW Sector. This could undeniably polarized one common vote for our sector.
There must be a coalition or forged alliance between OFW party list groups/OFW organizations and form at least one solid party to be elected in Congress or else we will faced the same embarrassing result and be constantly unrecognized. One solid vote for one particular party can achieve a needed percentage votes in a seat to Congress that will represent us in crafting laws advancing OFW special interests.
This suggested coalition composed of OFW groups worldwide and local NGO’s or OFW Advocates at home must formed a council within its leadership and create a committees such as: welfare and protection, reintegration, legal assistance and a screening committee that will serve as a panel in the selection of a qualified representative to any governing boards that oversees OFW concerns and among others related to OFW issues.
We should be aware that if we have a seat in Congress, our representative are considered elected Members of the House and as such, entitled to the same deliberative rights, salaries, and emoluments as the regular Members of the House of representatives. They shall serve for a term of three (3) years with a maximum of three (3) consecutive terms. Armed with legislative powers we can acquire funds through legislation that can be used as financial support to our OFW in distress worldwide. We can even have a national headquarters and welfare assistance facilities to our returning OFW in distress.
All of these depend on our OFW leaders to embrace the so-called coalition and set aside personal interest and look deeply for the good and welfare of the OFW Sector.
I still believed the possibility that OFW vote can make a significant difference in the coming election, only if our heart dictates the importance of our constitutional right then we should register and be an Absentee Voter.
Whether we like it or not, WE are part of Philippine Politics.
Just a Personal Glimpse.
By: Bong Amora
Posted at my home blog 1/30/06