(PNA file photo)

MANILA – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) said Wednesday it plans to introduce Internet voting for overseas voters in the May 2025 polls.

Comelec chairperson George Erwin Garcia, in an interview, said the poll body has been "deeply exploring" the details of the plan and is preparing for the allocation of a budget for the measure as a matter of policy direction.

Garcia said this seeks to increase the overseas voter turnout, which only saw 34 percent in the 2022 polls, slightly higher than 31 percent in the 2019 polls.

However, he said postal and personal modes for absentee voting would still be available in the 2025 elections.

"If after the 2025 elections, we see that overseas voters patronized Internet voting and less have availed of the personal and postal voting, it is highly possible that the other two modes of voting will be phased out. If we can successfully implement Internet voting in the 2025 elections, it may eventually be the mode that will be left available," Garcia said.

He noted that Internet voting would also require fewer expenses for the government.

"As we go on, overseas voting will likely require less budget," Garcia said.

Earlier, the Comelec said it is looking to use the Internet mode of voting in the next national elections, to encourage more Filipinos abroad to participate in the polls.

Section 28 of Republic Act 10590 states that the Commission "may explore other more efficient, reliable, and secure modes or systems, ensuring the secrecy and sanctity of the entire process, whether paper-based, electronic-based, or Internet-based technology or such other latest technology available."

Aside from voting in embassies and consular offices, Filipinos abroad may also avail of postal voting to be able to participate in the country’s electoral exercises.

Absentee voters elect only national positions, such as president, vice president, senators, and party-list groups. (PNA)