Dubai: Registered Filipino voters in Dubai no longer have an excuse not to exercise their right to vote at the Philippine Consulate-General as officials have extended voting time to 12 hours straight on weekdays and nine hours on weekends.

Vice-Consul Geronimo Suliguin said they have extended the voting time from 8am to 8pm on weekdays and 8am to 5pm on weekends. The previous schedule included lunch breaks of one hour and a four-hour gap in the afternoon when there very few voters at the consulate. With the new timings, voting is open throughout the scheduled time, with no lunch breaks.

“I’m giving all the time we can give to accommodate the voters, so there is no reason for them not to vote any more,” Suliguin told Gulf News.

Under Commission on Elections (Comelec) rules, voting can be done at a precinct for a minimum of eight hours. Anything beyond this is up to the post’s discretion.

Comelec representative from Manila lauded the consulate’s efforts. In an earlier interview, Attorney Jannice Caneba from Comelec told Gulf News: “The minimum hour requirement is just eight, but the consulate in Dubai plans to do 12. It speaks of their dedication and I laud them for such a heroic act.”

The voting received a slow start on Saturday with less than a hundred voters turning up for the first day of the elections. But numbers are slowly picking up, Suliguin said.

Registered voters must bring proof of identification before they can vote for 12 senators and one party-list group.