Only 100 Filipinos in Hawaii have registered to vote

WITH the registration period ended on Tuesday, only about 100 Filipinos living in Hawaii have taken advantage of a law that allows them to vote in the Philippine national elections in May, officials said.

Officials estimate there are about 50,000 Philippine nationals among Hawaii's population of about 1.2 million people.

The Philippine consul general in Honolulu, Rolando Gregorio, said he didn't expect the number to increase. He said the main concern was a provision in the Overseas Absentee Voting Law requiring registrants to return to the Philippines within three years from registration.

Those who do not return to the Philippines will be taken off the registration list and will not be able to vote in the next elections.

Another law that grants Filipinos living abroad dual citizenship -- and the ability to vote in elections with no requirement to return to the Philippines -- went into effect on Sept. 17, but Gregorio said rules had not been written yet, so elections officials would abide by the current requirements.

The registration period for overseas absentee voters began on Aug. 1.

Those who have registered-- Filipino immigrants living abroad who are 18 or older and have not given up their Philippine citizenship -- are allowed to vote for president, vice president, Senate and some House seats,.

In Canada, election officials illegally charged some Filipinos 40 to 50 dollars before they could register, presidential aspirant Raul Roco said.

Roco said Filipinos in Canada complained about the fee when he spoke to them last week.

"When you charge them 40 to 50 dollars just to register, that is putting a property qualification to voting," Roco told reporters at the airport in Manila. "That is wrong. That's prohibited by the Constitution."

He said Filipinos in Canada were told that the fee was for the "affidavit and notarial expenses."

Roco insisted that voters' registration should be free. He visited Filipino communities in Vancouver and Toronto in Canada and Chicago, Illinois, in the US.


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