DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – The Philippine embassy in Abu Dhabi and the Consulate General’s Office in Dubai are all set for the monthlong overseas absentee voting (OAV) from April 10 to May 9.
The offices have done necessary preparations to ensure an orderly electoral exercise in the coming presidential elections. The Philippine embassy in UAE will be conducting personal voting.
“We are very prepared. We note that there are 191,779 registered voters in Dubai, which is the highest anywhere in the world,” Consul General Renato Dueñas Jr., head of the Philippine mission in the city, told Rappler.
With a total of 290,182 voters, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has the largest number of registered overseas voters among destinations of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the world, said Dueñas.
The Dubai numbers are lower compared to pre-pandemic figures – there were 209,862 registered voters for the 2019 midterm elections. The decline has been attributed to the pandemic, which has forced thousands of OFWs to return home.
In a statement, the Philippine embassy said Ambassador Hjayceelyn Quintana held a meeting with representatives of political parties with assigned poll watchers to discuss the preparations made by the embassy.
“They were given a tour of the places inside the embassy grounds, where voting will be held, and as well replied to their queries regarding the conduct of the monthlong overseas election,” the statement read
The consulate, meanwhile, conducted the final testing and sealing of vote-counting machines on April 2, and all voting equipment were found to be in good order, according to Dueñas.
Ahead of the overseas elections, the Commission on Elections held a training for over 80 embassy and consulate personnel on March 21 to 25 at the Philippine Consulate in Dubai. Participants were from at least 10 Philippine foreign service posts, including Amman, Beirut, Jeddah, Kuwait, Manama, Muscat, Riyadh, and Tel Aviv.
The consulate is also set to open field voting venues across the city and its neighboring Northern Emirates to accommodate as many voters.
According to Dueñas, voting hours in Dubai are from 8 am to 9 pm – beyond the usual business hours of the consulate – to allow more registered voters to cast their ballots, considering that many of them are working during most parts of the day.
Voting hours in Abu Dhabi are from 8 am to 4 pm on April 10, and 7:30 am to 3:30 pm from April 11 to May 8, according to the embassy.
On May 9, voting in Dubai will be from 8 am to 3 pm, as voting ends at 7 pm in the Philippines, which is four hours ahead of the UAE. In Abu Dhabi, voting will be from 7 am to 3 pm.
Based on records, out of the 122,953 registered voters in the UAE for the 2016 presidential elections, only 37,950 actually voted.
According to the Comelec, there are 445,607 registered land-based overseas voters in the Asia Pacific region, over 143,000 in Europe, 785,470 in the Middle East and Africas, and 1.67 million in North and Latin America. There are over 1.6 million registered overseas Filipino voters all over the world, including seafarers.
After UAE, Riyadh in Saudi Arabia has the second largest number of registered overseas voters at 151,904. – Rappler.com