Illustration by Christian Purigay

The 2019 National Elections is set to happen on May 13. But for Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), the voting has already begun.

This year, the Comelec said that there are a total of 1,822,173 overseas voters, 43,033 of which are classified as seafarers. Make sure you exercise your right to vote! Here are some guidelines for our sea-based workers currently abroad:

Who are qualified to vote?
Filipino Citizens who are abroad, who are not disqualified by law, at least eighteen (18) years old on the day of elections are allowed to vote provided that you have registered as an Overseas Absentee Voter last December 1, 2017 to September 30, 2018.

You may find your name in the official list of overseas voters classified as seafarer at this link.

When can seafarers vote?
Unlike the one-day set up for local voters, the Overseas Absentee Voting will run for a month starting from April 13 to May 13, 2019. This will allow our OFWs, especially our seafarers, to have more time and opportunity to vote.

Where can seafarers cast their votes?
Seafarers may vote whenever the ship calls at a port which has a designated voting area accessible to it. Also, there are Philippine Embassies and Consulates which provide “Akyat-barko Initiative,” bringing the ballots to our Filipino seafarers on ships.

You can find the list of voting -accessible ports here.

What are the modes of voting?
Seafarers may vote through personal or postal systems. If you opt to cast your vote personally, you have to visit the nearest voting center from port. You may also vote through the postal system, in which the ballots will be mailed to you and you have to fill it out manually and mail it back to the Embassy or Consulate using the same envelope.

For more answers to your questions, you may visit the official COMELEC website, comelec.gov.ph or their Overseas Voting FAQ.

Exercise your right to vote! The future lies in your hands. Vote wisely, mga Kabaro!

Elijah Jose Barrios

Elijah Jose Barrios is a 24-year old Third Officer, Teacher, and Course Developer. He advocates for child literacy and youth empowerment through his involvement in different organizations.  He considers himself an appreciator of any form of art and usually puts all his realizations into writing.