NEW YORK – Luxury cruise ships like the Queen Mary and the Caribbean Princess are run by Filipinos.
About 50% of more than a thousand of its employees are contract overseas Filipino workers.
Many of them work aboard the ships for 10 months straight and take vacations for 2 months, only to come back again the next cycle.
Because of this hectic schedule, many of them are not able to sign up during voter’s registration period.
Niño Fernandez said the last time he voted was some 15 years ago. “Nung tumakbo si Noynoy, gusto kong bumoto kaya lang I did not have the chance,” he said.
“Hindi kami makaboto kahit gusto naming bumoto. Walang time para bumoto. Pag-uwi namin wala nang botohan. Sayang ‘yong boto namin sa sobrang dami namin dito,” Alfie Moldez said.
Vice Consul General Tess Dizon-De Vega said this is one reason why the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) is extending the registration for the 2013 national elections to one full year beginning October 31, 2011.
“On that date, maaaring magrehistro for one whole period ang mga kababayan nating qualified under the law,” De Vega said.
Seafarers can register at any Philippine consulate and embassy anywhere in the world.
But with only about two hours of offshore breaks, seafarers may still find registration challenging.
“Siguro kung mayroon representatives ng consulate na pupunta rito, mas accessible para sa mga seafarers,” Marivic Cristobal, wife of a seafarer, said.
“Dahil kakaiba nga ang situation ng seafarers natin, ang ginagawa ng mga embahada at konsulado ng Pilipinas sa iba’t-ibang parte ng mundo ay nagko-conduct sila ng mga mobile registration,” De Vega said. “Simula pa lang ng registration, nakikipag-ugnayan na kami sa mga ship companies.”
De Vega is calling on seafarers to take advantage of the one-year registration period beginning October 31.