Dubai: Hundres of Filipinos thronged to the Philippine Consulate General in Al Qusais, trying to beat the deadline for the Philippine overseas voting registration, which ended on Thursday.
“The past few days, I’ve seen a record number of applications for overseas voter registration (OVR). For the past two nights (Tuesday and Wednesday — October 12 and 13), we finished the registration process until past midnight (2am),” Philippine Consul-General Paul Raymund Cortes told Gulf News.
On Thursday, Cortes tweeted photos of Filipinos forming a long queue — while observing proper social distancing — outside the consulate compound. He said: “On Wednesday, around 800 people came to register. The consulate opened its doors until 10.30pm trying to accommodate as many people as possible.”
No final figure yet was given on the last day of the OVR but Cortes estimated over 1,000 people came on Thursday.
Patience is the key
Cortes thanked the Filipinos for their patience but also admonished those who came at the last minute to register for overseas voting.
“Patience is the key kababayans (compatriots). We’ve been waiting for you for almost two years now! FYI, registration for overseas voting began in December 2019 but not too many people decided to register until the last few weeks,” Cortes commented.
“Of course we are delighted that many of our compatriots wanted to participate in the voting exercise especially as their voices are critical in terms of our national political, economic, and social cultural development. I wonder, however, where they were for the past two years since we opened the registration in December 2019,” Cortes added.
Due to COVID-19, the deadline for the overseas voter registration has been extended until October 14. The Philippine Consulate has constantly reminded Filipinos in the UAE to register for the upcoming Philippine general elections.
Cortes noted: “By participating in the elections, we have the power to make decisions that can affect our community and our country. It is both a right and civic duty of every Filipino citizen to vote. In May 2022, we will choose leaders who will assume important roles in charting the course of the future of the Philippines. We need to voice out our goals and aspirations — for ourselves, our community, and the future generation of Filipinos.”
The next Philippine general elections — set to take place on May 9, 2022 — will select the successor of President Rodrigo Duterte. Philippine overseas voting, however, will run for one month from April 10 to May 9, 2022. Registered Filipino voters residing and working abroad can join in the monthlong overseas voting at Philippine missions to choose the next president, vice-president, 12 senators and a party-list representative.