Filipinos queue up to cast their vote in Dubai.
Mariecar Jara-Puyod, Senior Reporter
At least 930 of the 191,779 registered overseas absentee voters in Dubai and the Northern Emirates cast their vote on Monday, the last day of the April 10 to May 9 electoral process conducted at the Philippine Consulate General and the Philippine Overseas Labour Office in Dubai (PCGDXB and POLODXB respectively) for the hotly-contested Philippine presidential/national elections.
Ballots papers are counted in Manila for the first round of voting in the Philippines' presidential election.
Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr is heading for a landslide victory, according to an initial unofficial count.
The figure was easily known since for the smooth conduct of elections and in connection with the Novel Coronavirus health protocols, voters were divided into batches of 10 persons each. They were asked to wait in halls and covered areas within the complex where the Philippines’ Commission on Elections (COMELEC)-designated/accredited PCGDXB officers and staff as well as community volunteers constantly briefed them of the procedures so their votes would not be wasted.
The last 10 voters known as Batch 93, were able to enter the PCGDXB premises on or before the 3 p.m. cut-off that was synchronized with the 7:00 p.m. termination of the polls across the Southeast Asian archipelago on Monday. The 10 are professionals who believe it is their civic duty to vote. They want to make a difference in the state of politics and governance back home. Some only found the time to take off from their work on Monday. Some tried to cast their votes early on, going back-and-forth to the PCGDXB between two and five times, but long queues had deterred them.
They were Renee Portillo, 11 years in the UAE; Ericson Malabanan, second-time voter and deployed in Abu Dhabi; and human resources consultant Lou Parroco who felt her heartbeat running fast as she was happy to beat the deadline despite traffic. Equally happy were James Bondoc, Charina Miranda, Jenelyn Daniel, Nancy Silva, Roberto Pablo Jr., Calvin Casta, and Expat Media managing director Ma. Felicidad delos Santos.
Coming from the Business Bay area in Dubai, Daniel said the taxi driver dropped her off at the PCGDXB in Al Qusais in 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, as Rlixa emerged from the news coverage at 3:30 p.m., 10 Filipinos were outside the PCGDXB premises demanding entry. They argued that the cut-off time was 7 p.m. They only kept quiet when informed that the polls already ended at 3 p.m. in time with the 7 p.m. closure in the Philippines, in accordance with the COMELEC OAV rules and regulations.
The 6 p.m. target for the start of the counting of votes with COMELEC/PCGDXB-accredited poll watchers/representatives of the Liberal Party, LAKAS-Christian Muslim Democrats, Federal Party of the Philippines, Philippine Democratic Party, Kalinga, Makabayan, and Sagip got delayed as by 8 p.m. the count had yet to commence, it was learnt.
It would be the COMELEC-designated PCGDXB staff-Special Board of Elections Inspectors (SBEI) who shall man the continuing counting of the votes until all these—stored in SD cards of 1,000 votes each—is accomplished.
These votes shall then be transmitted via satellite to the Philippine Embassy in Abu Dhabi where all the canvassed votes are all consolidated before these are all transmitted, again via satellite to Manila election authorities. The PCGDXB shall be closed for its consular services until the vote counting is done.
The Rlixa team was at the PCGDXB from 10:15 a.m. It was gathered that voters were allowed to enter the premises at 8:20 a.m. Among them was Cecilia Lariosa who jetted in from South Africa with her non-Filipino husband. They landed at 6:30 a.m. at the Dubai International Airport. She rushed to the PCGDXB thereafter.
Among the voters too were mothers or young couples with babies or toddlers. A mother who cast her vote at 11 a.m. early on volunteered: “I tried to be here during the Eid but was informed of the long queues. My daughter is with me because no one would look after her at home.”
Before 12 noon, three men coming out of the polling stations were caught talking about another reprimanded for taking photographs with the use of his mobile phone his accomplished ballot. The man’s name was recorded. He was still allowed to drop his ballot receipt.
Consul General Renato Duenas Jr. at 3:15 p.m. said: “All in all, the last 30 days have been obviously tiring but we are very glad that our registered overseas voters here in Dubai and the Northern Emirates have worked with us and they came here to vote. We are happy that they are very much happy to participate in this electoral process.”