OFW representation in Congress
The Philippine Election 2016 is fast approaching. It will be held on May next year and being at home, I can feel and smell the preparation of some politicians in the surrounding community that I belong. Even in TV ads, some Presidentiables are busy making their own “papogi points” to the public. Of course, it’s part of their strategy to win the public sentiment on national issues at hand.
Talking about OFW Political empowerment, the OFWs were able to get a seat in Congress through the OFW Family Party List group who made it in the last 2013 election. Truly, we are proud that OFWs are finally represented in Congress since 14 years when former Congressman Sid Aligada and Omar Fajardo were appointed by former President Fidel Ramos to represent OFWs in the Philippine lower house of Congress.
But frankly, I can’t feel of any changes being made or introduced on the various issues of government policies that concerns our OFWs. I am not against Congressman Roy Seneres and in fairness, the good Congressman filed several bills in Congress since he assumed office yet none of them made it to the President’s desk. Surprisingly, I read an online article that he is eyeing for 2016 Presidential election. That, I have so much doubt that he can even reach number 10 in the list of the highest votes for the Presidency. Well, for me 750 thousand votes are not enough to change the course of history from Congress to Presidency. My sincere apology to the former Ambassador, that’s only my opinion and I am entitled to it. However, if the good former Ambassador will stick to where he is now and ask his colleagues in Congress to prioritize his bills, then Sir, you have my one vote again.
OFW Political Empowerment in barangay level
During the 2013 barangay election there were 53,786,223 registered Filipino voters according to COMELEC website. It means out of 101 Million Philippine population (taken from worldometers) half of our population are registered voters.
How many per cent of OFW family comprised a mere barangay? According to my neighbour who works at the local office of the Philippine Statistics Authority, in one particular barangay in Cebu, OFWs is comprised of 5% of the barangay population. Each family of that 5% population has 4 to 5 family members who are registered voters. Good enough for an OFW (former OFW or OFW family members or relatives) who wants to run as a barangay councilman with a 2,500 votes for a barangay population that consist of 10,000 registered voters.
Perhaps, the continuing saga in our fight for OFW political empowerment must start in barangay level. So, by representing the concerns of OFWs in a barangay or in many barangays around the Philippine archipelago, then the national scene will follow.
According to the April to September 2014 statistical report by Grace Bersales of Philippine Statistics Authority, there was an estimated 2.3 million Overseas Contract Workers (OCWs/OFWs) or those with existing work contract comprised 96.0 per cent (2.2 million) of the total OFWs. The rest (4.0% or 92,000) worked overseas without contract.
The total of 2,392,000 OFWs plus five of their families back home can even move a mountain apart to put a President in Malacanang with a total of 11,960,000 votes; near enough to what President Aquino garnered in 2010 presidential election.
Well that’s only a simple presumption, nonetheless Benjamin Banneker, an African American scientist once said “presumption should never make us neglect that which appears easy to us, nor despair make us lose courage at the sight of difficulties.”
That’s the reason why I am advocating Overseas Absentee Voting registration and requesting those 975,263 Overseas Absentee Voters worldwide to update your voting status, especially to those 237,504 registered voters who failed to vote in the previous Philippine national election.
To my fellow OFWs, talk to your families back home, ask them to participate in the October 2016 barangay election and through them, we can now empower by representing our OFW sector in the barangay level. – BongA