Senator Francis Tolentino on Wednesday urged the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to devise a plan allowing Filipino seafarers to exercise their right to suffrage.
During the hearing of the Senate committee on electoral reforms, Tolentino asked Comelec officials to look into the plight of Filipino seafarers who have been deprived of their right to vote because they are at sea most of the time.
While the current process allows seafarers to vote by going to the nearest embassy or consular post during the 30-day voting period, the senator noted that most seafarers are at sea for six months, which is the usual duration of their contracts.
Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez agreed with Tolentino’s sentiment, adding that the poll body is studying other ways to provide seafarers various avenues to cast their votes.
He said the Comelec has not yet made use of online voting technology to allow seafarers to vote while at sea.
Tolentino suggested that the Comelec deputize Filipino captains of Philippine-flagged vessels, which are considered part of the country’s territory under the law, to oversee the casting of ballots by Filipino seafarers under their authority while at sea.