By Leslie Ann Aquino
The suspension of the overseas voter registration in the country has been extended until June.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) Office for Overseas Voting (OFOV) cited the extension of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as the reason for the extension.
“In view of the extension of the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ), the suspension of overseas registration in the local field registration centers and in the OFOV is further extended from April 30, 2020 to June 30, 2020,” Comelec – OFOV Commissioner-In-Charge Rowena Guanzon said.
She said the holding of the first Resident Election Registration Board (RERB) hearing for applications for registration as overseas voter is also postponed from May 20, 2020 to July 20, 2020.
“The RERB hearing set on July 20, 2020 shall cover applications for the first and second quarters (December 16, 2019- June 30, 2020),” said Guanzon.
“The said postponement and extension, however, are still subject to an earlier termination or extension as conditions so warrant.” she added.
Last April 25, the Comelec also extended the suspension of voter registration and all voter registration activities in the country up to June 30, 2020 due to the ECQ extension.
“The extension was approved in light of the extension of the implementation of the ECQ until May 15 in select areas in the country,” Comelec Executive Director Bartolome J. Sinocruz, Jr. said.
“The conduct of voter registration is not yet advisable since there will be restrictions on the movement of people and on certain activities,” he added.
The suspension is in effect nationwide, encompassing voter registration in all Comelec offices and satellite registration sites.
This is the third suspension of the system of continuing registration of voters due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As early as March 9, all Comelec offices in all cities and municipalities nationwide were directed to suspend voter registration until March 31.
Subsequently, on March 27, the Comelec resolved to reschedule the lifting of the suspension from March 31 to April 30.
“The period from May 1 to June 30 will give the Commission time to put in place anti-COVID-19 measures in relation to the conduct of the registration of voters once it resumes,” Sinocruz said.