Dubai: Filipino expatriates in Dubai and the northern emirates eligible to vote in next year’s elections no longer have an excuse not to register as the Philippine consulate will be open right through October, including on weekends, to accommodate voters.

Voting period

Overseas voting for the Philippine presidential and national elections will start in the UAE on April 9, 2016 and end on May 6. Filipino expatriates residing in the UAE who will be at least 18 years of age at the time of the election have to register at the consulate in Dubai or embassy in Abu Dhabi in order to vote.

The announcement was made during a public forum titled ‘Vote Wisely’ organised by the University of the Philippines Alumni Association held at the consulate on Friday.

Voter registration deadline

Registration for overseas voting ends on October 31, 2015.

The consulate will be open on weekends (Fridays and Saturday) from 9am to 3pm.

Consulate officials will also be visiting areas frequented by Filipinos on weekends such as Satwa and churches in Dubai and Sharjah to encourage more people to register for the vote.

Consul General Paul Raymund Cortes urged his fellow Filipinos to encourage their friends and relatives to register before the October 31 deadline.

He said small acts could go a long way in promoting awareness, like tweeting about the importance of voting.

Registered voters

As of September 17, a total of 118,218 people had registered to vote across Dubai and the northern emirates with 62,366 of them being new voters. In Abu Dhabi, 72,726 people registered to vote, including 51,081 new voters.

Altogether, these numbers represent 24 per cent of the estimated 800,000 Filipinos in the UAE, a slight improvement from the total registered voters in 2013, which made for 13 per cent of the entire Filipino community at the time.

Why register?

The most common reason why people don’t register to vote is because many of them do not feel the need to vote. This should not be the case, said Consul Giovanni Palec. “If you don’t participate in the elections, and then you question the government later on, realise that that’s the government you deserve because you did not do your part,” the Filipino diplomat said.

“If the turnout is low, definitely, the politicians [once they are in power] may not focus on your [needs]. So if you look at the total number of overseas voters worldwide, collectively, you [overseas Filipinos] can become a force to reckon with,” he added.

Pre-register online

Filipinos who wish to register as overseas voters can pre-register through the iRehistro section of the Commission on Election’s website. Print the completed form before heading to the consulate to give your biometrics. Doing this, said Consul Palec, cuts down the voter listing time at the consulate to two minutes or less per person.

Important: don't forget to bring the original or photocopy of your valid passport.

Web link

To pre-register as an overseas voter, click: