The term in absentia is a Latin adverb which means ‘while not present at the event being referred to’. If the act of voting is done in absentia, it signifies that the voter is voting in the place other than his or her residence at a given authorized period of time. This is commonly known as absentee voting.
Absentee voting is a right guaranteed under the first paragraph of section 2, article V of the Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines where it is stated that: “The Congress shall provide a system of securing the secrecy and sanctity of the ballot as well as a system for absentee voting by qualified Filipinos abroad.” Although this provision specifically gives qualified Filipino citizens abroad to vote for our leaders while they are overseas, it does not preclude government employees and media practitioners from exercising their right to vote in absentia, be it locally, this is known as local absentee voting.
The applicable law for our overseas absentee voters would be the Overseas Absentee Voting Act (RA 9189), it provides an absentee voting system for qualified Filipino citizens residing or working outside the Philippines. Said law is being implemented by the Commission on Elections by having promulgated Comelec Resolution number 10217 dated October 27, 2017, which rules are applicable to all subsequent elections where overseas absentee voting is to be availed of. The Comelec also promulgated Comelec Resolution number 10619 dated
November 6, 2019 which provides for the Rules and Regulations for the Conduct of Continuing Registration for Overseas Voting for purposes of the May 9, 2022 National and Local Elections.
Those who can avail of the local absentee voting would be the government employees, the employees of the PNP and AFP and members of the mass media who will be assigned in areas away from their place of residence where they are voters. It would also include the media practitioners who may be assigned in their places of residence but due to the performance of their functions, in covering and reporting events concerning the elections, they will be unable to vote on election day.
All qualified absentee voters may only vote for the elective positions of President, Vice- President, Senators and Party List Representatives.
A more detailed discussion on absentee voting, both overseas and local, including the pertinent rules, shall be made on June 11, 2021 at 8:30 in the morning at the Balitaktakan segment of RNG Luzon. Please watch it.
***All comments mentioned in this article are made in my personal capacity as a lawyer and are not made as an employee of the Commission on Elections (Comelec).