MANILA – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) suspended on Wednesday the 2025 national and local elections (NLE) voter registration for Filipinos in Israel amid the ongoing war there.
"Nag-desisyon na kanina ang en banc na sinuspend na po natin ang registration ng mga kababayan natin sa Israel, ayaw po nating i-sakripisyo ang kanilang buhay, ang kanilang safety (The [Comelec] en banc decided to suspend our registration in Israel, we don't want to sacrifice their lives nor their safety)," Comelec Chairperson George Erwin Garcia said in an ambush interview.
Garcia said Filipinos must refrain from going to the embassy just to register and remain in their homes or safe bases as much as possible.
The poll body has yet to decide whether to extend voter registration instead.
"Indefinite po iyong suspension na iyan, (pero) wala pa naman tayong pinag-iisipan kung mag-eextend po tayo. Ang importante, protektado at nasa maayos na kalagayan iyong mga kababayan natin (The suspension is indefinite, but we're not yet thinking of an extension. What's important is that our fellow Filipinos are protected and in good condition)," Garcia said.
As of Wednesday, Israel is classified under Alert Level 2 which entails restriction in the deployment of Filipinos, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
Two Filipinos among the six reported missing were confirmed dead.
To date, almost 25,000 overseas Filipino workers and tourists are in Israel.
No one left behind
Meanwhile, Garcia insisted that the poll body is mandated to ensure no one is left behind in the conduct of the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE) on Oct. 30.
During the signing of a memorandum of agreement with the Legal Network for Truthful Elections (LENTE) for the Katutuvote, Garcia said the voting rights of the vulnerable sector, especially the indigenous peoples (IPs), must be upheld.
"Diyan natin maipaparamdam na wala tayong iiwanan, lalung-lalo na kung pag-uusapan ang karapatan ng bawat isa na bumuto (That's where we can let them feel that we're leaving no one behind, especially in terms of the right to suffrage)," he said in a speech.
Garcia also urged the public to be welcoming of and helpful to IPs during the conduct of the BSKE.
"Kapag nakaramdam sila ng kahit anong discrimination, nakaramdam sila na parang di natin sila ka-uri o kasama, diyan po magsisimula ang hindi pagkakaunawaan (If they feel any kind of discrimination or the feeling of being outcast, that's where the misunderstanding starts)," he added.
Under the agreement, Comelec and LENTE will collaborate to ensure voters' education, especially among IP voters in the country. (PNA)