Dubai: Despite the efforts of the Philippine Consulate-General in Dubai to extend voting hours and reach out to registered Filipinos in Dubai and the northern emirates, only 3,545 people participated in the month-long absentee voting that concluded on Monday.
Turnout was considerably low — 6.35 per cent of the 55,842 registered voters in Dubai and the northern emirates — for the first automated elections in the Middle East.
“Although the turnout is low, we are still satisfied with the results as it is slightly higher than the previous election results in 2010,” said Philippine Consul-General Frank Cimafranca. “Considering the potential of Dubai, we should have had a bigger turnout. The biggest challenge was to get people to vote.”
Based on consulate figures, more than 414 hours of voting time was alloted in the more than 20 field voting centres throughout Dubai and the northern emirates. The Commission on Elections requirement is just 248 hours.
“I was hoping that there would be more voters this time,” Vice Consul Geronimo Suliguin, who heads the Overseas Absentee Voting in Dubai, told Gulf News. “Nonetheless, I commend all the consular staff and volunteers who sacrificed their weekends and stayed committed to this exercise.”
A total of 12 senators and one party-list group will be elected. Partial and unofficial results showed Francis Escudero, Alan Peter Cayetano and Loren Legarda garnered the highest votes for the senators. OFW Family received the highest number of for the party-list group.
Election results from Abu Dhabi were not available at the time of going to press.
Last-minute voters flocked to the consulate on Monday. Among them was Mary Anne Granada, who finished her shift at 2.30pm on Monday and arrived at the consulate two minutes before 3pm.
Being the last voter for the elections, she said: “I made it a point to vote after work because we as overseas Filipino workers, we need to be involved.”