Comelec Suspends OFW Voter Registration in Israel Due to Ongoing War

By: Aianna Xyril Monsod
October 12, 2023
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Explosions rock the Gaza Strip as Hamaz unleashes its attack on Israel with the latter retaliating. Photo courtesy of PhilStar Global.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) suspended Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) voter registration for the May 2025 elections in Israel due to its ongoing war with militant group Hamas. 

George Garcia, the Comelec chief, said in a statement, “We do not want to sacrifice the lives and safety of our fellow Filipinos. The suspension will be indefinite, and we are not yet thinking if we will extend it. What’s important is the protection and welfare of Filipinos, especially those in Israel.” 

Prior to the suspension, overseas voter registration would have ended on September 30, 2024, for the national and local elections in May 2025. The Comelec continues to consider possibilities for an extension.

 

Israel-Hamas War

Hamas, the Palestinian group in charge of the Gaza Strip, launched a massive surprise attack on southern Israel on October 7. Israel responded by declaring war on the group and carrying out extensive airstrikes in retaliation.

According to the Philippine Embassy in Tel Aviv on Wednesday, two Filipinos have died in the Israeli war conflict: a 42-year-old man from Pampanga abducted by Hamas, and a 33-year-old Pangasinan woman killed along with her employer.

70 Filipinos living in Gaza are unable to return home because of the two countries' ongoing blockade, isolating the region from the majority of the world.

Foreign Undersecretary Eduardo de Vega said to the House Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs, “The number of those who want to be repatriated keeps increasing. The problem is that Gaza is under a blockade, [and] there is no way in or out.”

On Wednesday, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) announced that in the event that it becomes necessary they will conduct evacuation operations for Filipinos residing in Israel.

“I assure everybody that, with the guidance of our President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the Armed Forces of the Philippines is prepared to execute evacuation operations should there be any further attack,” AFP spokesperson Col. Medel Aguilar said at a palace briefing. 

Hamas and Israel have fought in several wars since tensions occurred between the Israelis and Palestines circa 1948 founding of the former.

Prior to Saturday’s assault, the two countries suffered their last war in 2021, lasting for 11 days and killing at least 250 in Gaza and 13 in Israel. 

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