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Government to set up Voter Registration Centers for seafarers in select sites abroad

Government to set up Voter Registration Centers for seafarers in select sites abroad
Carmela I. Huelar March 4, 2023

The Philippine Government, led by the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina), and the Commission on Elections (Comelec), is gearing up toward the 2025 mid-term elections.

This is in order not to disenfranchise the hundreds of thousands of Filipino seafarers onboard international-going ships with their Right to Suffrage.

On Thursday, the Marina, Comelec, along with other related government institutions like the Department of Foreign Affairs and Department of Migrant Workers forged an Agreement to establish Voter Registration Centers for overseas voters including seafarers.

The Centers will operate until September 30, 2024, to ensure the continuous registration of qualified overseas Filipino voters.

"We definitely have one aim or hope in mind — that is, they [overseas voters] will be able to exercise their right to suffrage come the 2025 National and Local Elections wherever they may be or whatever seas their ships may sail, their votes will be counted," Marina Deputy Administrator for Operations Nannette V. Dinopol said.

"Consistent with the principle of leaving no one behind, the Marina remains a strong partner of Comelec in promoting the continuing registration for qualified overseas Filipino seafarers through the Comelec-Marina Registration Centers for Overseas Voters," Dinopol added.

As of the moment, about half a million Filipino seafarers, or about 25% of the total global manning fleet, are onboard an overseas-going fleet. These seafarers contribute close to $7 billion in annual remittance, plugging financial holes toward nation-building.

On Tuesday, President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. lauded the contributions of Filipino seafarers to the country during the Philippine Maritime Industry Summit 2023 claiming that the Philippines already holds one of the most important ingredients in the industry, which is, the seafarers and it is high time to exploit their knowledge and experience to the benefit of the wider Filipinos.

"It's time to make the maritime industry once again a top priority," the President said. "While we already hold a dominant position in the world of global shipping, I certainly believe that we can do more especially here at home."

"All we need to now is to ensure that we harness their knowledge and their experience, and mobilize our local industry to build an even stronger domestic maritime industry for the benefit of our people," the President, popularly known as PBBM, stressed.

"As a leader, I assure you that this administration will give its unqualified support in your aspiration in building a Philippine Maritime Industry that will be looked upon with admiration by the region and the rest of the world," PBBM added.