Cartoon by Roni Santiago
Cartoon by Roni Santiago

As overseas Filipinos who love our homeland, we should feel obliged to get involved in this year’s Philippine elections. This is especially true to dual citizens who are registered voters.

While the balloting will take place on May 9, 2016 in the Philippines, overseas voters can now cast their votes. Overseas voting, which runs for one month, started last April 9 and will end on May 8.

There are three ways by which overseas voters can cast their ballots. First, they can fill out the ballots sent to them by the Philippine Consulate and mail them back. Second, they can go to the consulate where they can vote. Third, they may take advantage of the field voting being conducted by consulate personnel in various places.

(In Michigan, consulate personnel held field balloting last April 23 at the Philippine American Cultural Center of Michigan in Southfield.)

These ways were devised by the Commission on Elections (Comelec), in cooperation with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), to encourage more overseas voters to participate in the elections.

This year’s balloting is deemed crucial as we will be voting for, among others, the next president and vice president.

A big overseas voter turnout could influence the outcome of the elections for the presidential candidates especially if the race is a neck-and-neck contest. A few hundreds of thousands of votes could mean victory or defeat to a candidate.

Those of us who are not able to vote because we are not dual citizens or registered voters may participate in the elections by urging our relatives and friends in the Philippines to vote for candidates who are not corrupt and capable to lead the country in the next six years.

This is the least that we can do to give back to our homeland which has remained a third-world country due to endemic corruption, ineffective leadership and unstable peace and order situation.

Filipinos here in the U.S. have been complaining about slow development and rampant corruption in the Philippines. The election is their opportunity to let their voices heard. They can make their concerns known by voting in the elections and by campaigning for candidates whom they believe can lead well the country in the next six years.

Overseas voters, numbering some four million, have the power to turn the country around with their votes.

One advantage they have is that they can resist temptation to sell their votes, unlike poor people in the Philippines who are vulnerable to vote buying. This realization should make us feel oblige to participate in the election.

Let’s discard our “don’t-care” attitude towards what is happening to our homeland. And let’s remember that “the only thing for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”