Image Credit: Gulf News

Dubai: A large majority of the more than 209,000 registered Filipino voters in Dubai and the northern emirates have yet to cast their votes ahead of the end of month-long elections on Monday, according to a Philippines consulate official.

Filipino voters in the UAE have just three days left to vote for 12 senators and one party-list representative during this year’s mid-term elections.

Poll officials are not permitted to give figures on voter turnout but Consul-General Paul Raymund Cortes said a big majority have yet to turn up despite their continuous efforts to make the elections as accessible to as many Filipinos as possible.

The Friday crowd at polling booths in Chelsea Plaza Hotel in Satwa and Asiana Hotel in Deira, who took advantage of the last weekend to vote, was a welcome sight, Cortes said.

“The crowd is part of the last minute surge of Filipino nationals who wish to vote. We understand that the weekend may be their last chance because Sunday, May 12, is a working day for many, and the last day of elections, May 13, is also a working day,” Cortes told Gulf News.

“We are prepared to welcome the last minute surge of people although we have repeatedly asked our nationals to come as early as April 13 because this is a one month exercise.”

Among those who came on Friday was Felinor Tomagan, 59, a security guard, who chose to vote in Satwa as it is the closest to his home.

“I live in Dubai Investments Park (DIP). I’m happy that they set-up a mobile voting site here in Satwa which is just one bus ride away from DIP. So I made sure to vote today on my day off,” Tomagan told Gulf News.

Merolina Cubero, 55, a housemaid residing in Palm Jumeirah, agreed.

“The voting area is spacious, comfortable and accessible for us who don’t have the luxury of time to go to the consulate and have only one day off in a week,” Cubero said.

Celina Anuran, 49, also a household service worker, said she did not intend to vote because of the distance of the consulate from Dubai Marina where she lives. But when she learnt there’s a mobile site in Satwa, she made sure to exercise her right.

“Initially, I didn’t know that we can cast our vote here in Satwa. But someone told me we can do it here and I’m grateful to consulate officials for making it possible.”

Cortes is expecting more crowds on Saturday as many voters belonging to certain religious organisations that practise block voting in the Philippines might have already received the decision of their respective religious leaders back home.

“What we’re really trying to do is to enfranchise as many people as possible because we would like to hear their voices and let the country know who the overseas Filipinos in Dubai think should be part of our legislative agenda. We have to be more proactive, more civic-oriented about what we feel the role of the diaspora is when it comes to choosing their leaders,” Cortes said.