Filipino ex­pats urged to vote

Filipinos urged to cast their vote

7 Days in Dubai - - FRONT PAGE - By Nawal Al Ramahi @nawal_ramahi

UAE based Filipinos have been warned not to leave vot­ing to the last minute as the polling sta­tions here won’t be able to cope.

That’s ac­cord­ing to Paul Ray­mund Cortes, Philip­pine Con­sul Gen­eral, who urged Filipinos to ex­er­cise their right to vote be­fore the May 9 dead­line.

So far the turnout has been lower than ex­pected with only 31,000 of the 194,621 reg­is­tered vot­ers in the UAE cast­ing their bal­lot since it opened on April 9.

“I urge our com­pa­tri­ots who have not voted yet to do so early and not leave vot­ing to the last minute be­cause we will not be able to ac­com­mo­date all of them on the last day of elec­tions,” said Cortes.

He listed a num­ber of rea­sons for the low voter turnout, such as a lack of time, busy life­style and trans­porta­tion prob­lems.

To en­cour­age more vot­ers in the cap­i­tal, the Filipino em­bassy has ex­tended its open­ing times un­til May 8 to 8am to 8pm. The elec­tions will run un­til May 9.

For the mis­sion in Dubai, two polling sta­tions will be avail­able this weekend.

Cortes dis­missed the idea that low voter turnout is due to the pos­si­bil­ity that many reg­is­tered vot­ers have al­ready gone back to the Philip­pines for good or may have moved to a new coun­try.

He en­cour­aged his fel­low coun­try­men to make an ef­fort and get in­volved in the coun­try’s 16th pres­i­den­tial elec­tions.

“The bulk of the new reg­is­trants or the 50,000 peo­ple that we reg­is­tered from May 2014 to Oc­to­ber 2015 are those who came to us to re­new their pass­ports. It’s only been a year since, it’s im­pos­si­ble for all of them to have gone home for good,” Cortes said. Filipinos can visit the web­site of the Philip­pine em­bassy or con­sulate for the com­plete vot­ers’ list to check whether they are reg­is­tered.

Of­fi­cials re­it­er­ated that on the last day of the elec­tion on May 9, the em­bassy and con­sulate will be open from 5am to 1pm only, co­in­cid­ing with the polls in the Philip­pines.

To help get as many turn­ing out to vote in the elec­tion, the Philip­pines em­bassy is lay­ing on a free bus to bring vot­ers to the polling sta­tion.

Vot­ers will be picked up at des­ig­nated points in both Sharjah and Dubai on Fri­day, May 6, and taken to the Philip­pines Con­sulate be­fore they are re­turned to the same point they were picked up at.

CON­TENDER: Grace Poe cam­paigns for the pres­i­dency in the Philip­pines

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