Overseas absentee voting (OAV) has yet to begin in Shanghai, China due to the surge of Covid-19 cases in the foreign city, the Philippines’ Consul General there said.
Consul General of the Philippines in Shanghai Josel Ignacio disclosed on Wednesday, April 27, that they were not able to open the OAV on April 10 as strict lockdown had been enforced in the city starting late March.
Ignacio added the situation in Shanghai, which records below 20,000 new cases of the disease daily, also prevented the Consulate from picking up election materials from the customs.
“Sa ngayon, sa kasamaang palad, sarado pa rin ang ating presinto dito. Hindi po kami nakapagbukas simula nung April 10 at ang totoo po nun, mula nung katapusan ng Marso, nung dumating yung election materials ay hindi na din po namin nailabas mula sa customs dito sapagkat nag-lockdown na nga po (At present, unfortunately, our precinct here is still closed. We were not able to open since April 10 and in fact, since late March, when the election materials arrived, we were not able to get it from customs due to the lockdown here),” Ignacio said during a televised briefing.
The foreign affairs official, however, said they continue to seek the permission of the Shanghai government to push through with the absentee voting.
He said the same thing also happened to the Consulate General of France in Shanghai which was not allowed to conduct voting due to the surging Covid cases.
“So ‘yan po yung mga hurdles na ating sinusubukang ma-overcome pero nakipag-ugnayan tayo sa Shaghai Foreign Affairs Office para very specifically, categorically ask them na payagang magbukas ang konsulado, payagang makalabas ang mga botante natin subalit dahil sa higpit ng lockdown at sa pangamba ng Covid ay hindi pa nila mapapayagan na makaboto (So these are the hurdles that we are trying to overcome but we are coordinating with the Shanghai Foreign Affairs Office to very specifically, categorically ask them to allow us to open the Consulate, allow the voters to go out but because of the strict lockdown),” Ignacio said.
Ignacio said Filipinos in Shanghai can still opt to cast their vote in other Philippine Consulate General offices in China that allow in-person voting. They can still sign up for the option until April 30.
However, this option, he said, will still be evenly tough for the Shanghai-based Filipinos as they will need to take the long journey and undergo varying quarantine regulations.
“Inuulat po natin sa Comelec (Commission on Elections) nang palagian at sa DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs) ang sitwasyon dito para maidulog sa Comelec at siyempre being an election process ang formal na pagpapasya tungkol sa status ay nasa Comelec (We are constantly updating Comelec and the DFA about the situation here so that it will also be relayed to the Comelec and the formal decision on the status here as part of the election process is the Comelec),” Ignacio said.
According to him, there are currently about 1,600 voters in Shanghai.