Philippine Consul General Paul Raymund Cortes.
Dubai - Philippine Consul General Paul Raymund Cortes noted that Dubai tops the list among 85 Philippine diplomatic posts worldwide with 122,185 certified Filipino voters.
Overseas Filipinos should send a strong message to policy-makers back home by actively participating in the upcoming Philippine national elections, consulate officials in Dubai said.
Registered overseas Filipino voters will choose the next president, vice-president, 12 senators, and a sectoral or party-list representative and they have one month to cast their votes from April 9 to May 9.
Philippine Consul General Paul Raymund Cortes noted that Dubai tops the list among 85 Philippine diplomatic posts worldwide with 122,185 certified Filipino voters.
"Hopefully we get a good percentage to cast their votes so that our politicians and leaders will pay more attention to Filipinos abroad," Cortes said at a media briefing on Tuesday.
"We'd like our governance style to be more dynamic, participative and more inclusive. How do you do that? Only when people say something as to what they want their leaders to be.
"If they do not vote, that means they don't have any opinion as to what they want for themselves and for their country," he added.
Cortes added that Filipino expatriates can drew inspiration from visionary leaders like in the UAE and translate this to influencing their own leaders.
The voter turnout, however, was quite low in the last 2013 midterm elections, with only 6.35 per cent or 3,545 of the 55,842 registered voters cast their votes.
Deputy Consul General Giovanni Palec said Filipinos should not just practise their right to suffrage but must also make a "statement vote."
"We hope at least 50 percent (of the 122,185 registered voters in Dubai and Northern Emirates) will go out and vote because they will be able to influence the policy-makers in Manila. It's a statement that overseas voters play a role in nation building and not just in sending remittances."
Filipinos abroad contribute around 8.5 per cent to the annual Philippine gross domestic product (GDP).
Money they sent back home in the first 11 months of 2015 alone stood at $22.83 billion. Of this amount, $1.581 billion emanated from Filipinos in the UAE, which is the third biggest source of remittance after the US and Saudi Arabia.
Palec said: "Personally, I will vote for someone who will be able to make economic gains back home."
Ryan Morales, chairperson of Migrante-UAE, a group pro moting the rights and welfare of migrant Filipinos, echoed the same sentiment.
He said: "Considering the reason for our migration is due to lack of opportunities back home, the candidates who should win must have a clear programme on creating suitable and sustainable jobs back home."
"The candidate should not be only anti-corruption and promoter of peace and order but must have strong concerns for the welfare and rights of OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) and their families," he added.
Meanwhile, the Philippine consulate officials will hold a training in March on how to go about the conduct of the election. They are also awaiting approval from the Comelec (Commission on Elections) in Manila to field mobile precincts aside from the one in Al Qusais.
Voting will start on April 9 at 8am and the consulate will be open daily, including weekends. The absentee voting will end on May 9 at 1pm (UAE time), in sync with the 5pm (Manila time) closing of polls in the Philippines.
Registered voters must bring their passports or copy of their passports and valid Emirates ID.
They can go to http://dubaipcg.dfa.gov.ph to check if they are on the list of qualified voters.