Filipino overseas voters. Image Credit: Gulf News

Dubai: Philippine missions in the UAE are urging registered voters to cast their vote early and not leave their decision to the last minute when elections start on Saturday.

The month-long overseas voting begins on Saturday and runs until May 9 for the nearly 200,000 registered Filipino voters. This year’s polls will decide the Philippine’s next president, vice-president, 12 senators, and one party-list representative.

The Philippine Embassy will have a total of seven voting precincts and will be open on April 9 from 8am to 4pm, from April 10 to May 8 from 9am to 5pm, and on May 9 from 5am to 1pm.

The Philippine consulate-general, which caters to 123,185 voters from Dubai and the northern emirates, will implement a staggered timing for the elections.

As per Commission on Election (Comelec) rules, a precinct can only remain open for eight hours. The consulate has 12 precincts or voting machines.

“We will split the timings depending on the day and volume of people in order to accommodate more voters at the consulate,” Deputy Consul-General Giovanni Palec told Gulf News.

“We will open at 8am, but in between, we’re not going to open all precincts, maybe just four to six machines only, and then later on we’ll open the rest from 1pm to 9pm. People are at work during the day and we don’t expect them to go to the consulate during working hours.”

Palec said splitting the timing would allow them to have voting precincts available from 8am to 9pm daily.

Palec said the consulate expects a bigger voter turnout this year as people are more keen to participate in the national elections, based on his observation from other posts.