Comelec suspends overseas registration in danger zones

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The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has indefinitely suspended overseas absentee voter (OAV) registration in Libya and four other areas due to escalating political tension and armed conflict there.

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Commissioner Lucenito Tagle, who heads the Office for Overseas Voting, on Tuesday said the suspension of the OAV registration in Libya, Syria, Iraq, Gaza Strip and Ukraine resulted from a suggestion by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

“Now that we have received a recommendation from the DFA, the suspension of registration will be effective immediately in view of deteriorating security situation in those countries,” Tagle noted in an interview.

He said the suspension of voters’ registration abroad will be lifted depending on security conditions there.

Recently, Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said the OAV will only be suspended upon recommendation of affected Philippine Foreign Service Posts.

“[A post] sends a recommendation to the Comelec if [it finds]that it is too dangerous to continue registration or if registration is not feasible,” Jimenez added.

“On the basis of that recommendation, registration is either suspended or not by the Comelec,” he said.

The Comelec and the DFA have been jointly conducting the OAV registration since May 6 in all Philippine embassies and consulates abroad.

The registration closes on October 31, 2015.

All Filipino citizens, who are expected to be abroad from April 9 to May 9, 2016, are urged by the Comelec to line up for the OAV registration for the 2016 national elections.

To qualify, registrants should be at least 18 years old on May 9, 2016 and not otherwise disqualified by law.The DFA has issued Crisis Alert Level 4, warranting mandatory repatriation for Filipinos in Gaza Strip, Libya, Syria and Iraq.

Alert Level 2 or the restriction phase, meanwhile, has been raised in Ukraine.

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