Dubai: Filipino voters in the UAE should not waste their vote but should contribute to nation-building by going beyond sending remittances through participating in the monthlong polls starting on Saturday, an official said.
Every six years, Filipinos back home and around the world get to elect their country’s top leaders including their president and vice-president.
The number of land-based eligible voters in the UAE increased by 307 per cent from just 47,720 in the 2010 elections to 194,621 this year, while the number of Filipinos in the UAE rose by 67 per cent, according to the Philippine government estimates.
“The increase in the number of registered voters reflects the increase in the level of political awareness among our compatriots. That is a strong indication that there’s going to be a significant turnout in this election,” Philippine Ambassador to the UAE Constancio Vingno Jr. told Gulf News.
Of the registered voters, the majority or 122,185 are from Dubai and the Northern Emirates. Although high registration does not automatically mean higher voter turnout, Consul-General Paul Raymund Cortes is still hopeful that more people will actually come out and vote this time.
Only 16.59 per cent or 7,917 registered voters participated in the presidential polls in 2010.
“We do hope that a good proportion of the registered voters this year, 50 per cent or even higher, would actually come out to vote. What a waste if these 122,000 have just come to register but not actually participate in the elections,” Cortes told Gulf News during the final testing of the Vote-Counting Machine on Thursday night.
“We’ve said time and time again that the overseas Filipinos are the “Bagong Bayani” (Modern-day Heroes) but at the same time, beyond economics, let’s hope that they could also come up with a more decisive role especially as far as civic responsibility and political nation building are concerned,” he added.
Overseas Filipinos have often been criticised for being apathetic to the major issues facing their country.
Cortes said Filipinos have a say in what their country should be in the next six years.
Over the last six years, the Philippines has made great strides economically. From being the perennial “sick man of Asia”, the Philippines was described as the next “Asian miracle” by the World Bank in 2014 when it emerged from decades of being a “regional economic laggard”.
Many more issues need to be addressed, including peace and order, jailing corrupt officials, prioritising education and beefing up national defence, among others.
“Voting is important because we keep blaming other sectors of society for the ills of our nation but what we fail to realise is that the ills of the nation cannot be solved by government alone,” Cortes said. “It cannot be solved by just one branch, one sector of society, and it needs an all-of-nation approach, which includes our stakeholders, our voters, everyone.”
Philippine Embassy, Abu Dhabi (6 Vote-Counting Machines)
Registered Voters: 72,436 (land-based)
April 9: 8am to 4pm
April 10 to May 8: 9am to 5pm
May 9: 5am to 1pm
Philippine Consulate, Dubai (12 Vote-Counting Machines)
Registered Voters: 112,185 (land-based)
April 9 to May 8: 8am to 9pm
May 9: 5am to 1pm
Dos and Don’ts during the elections
1) Be at the voting precinct at the allotted time. On the last day of elections on May 9, polling precincts will close at 1pm UAE time, which is 5pm in the Philippines. Those in the queue within 30 metres from the precinct will be allowed to vote.
2) Don’t over vote. Voting for more than the required number of candidates will nullify your vote.
3) Don’t take selfies while inside the precinct nor pictures of your ballot.
4) Giving out flyers or sample ballots inside the precinct is not allowed as per Commission on Elections rules. “Outside the consulate, it is also not allowed to give out flyers whether political or commercial as per UAE law, unless permitted by the UAE government,” Consul Ferdie Flores said.
5) Wearing campaign shirts or material that state political choices is not allowed within the polling precinct.