Philippine elections in UAE: Last-minute voters take leave from work to cast ballots

Voting is officially over and counting has begun

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Nandini Sircar

Published: Mon 9 May 2022, 8:10 PM

Last updated: Mon 9 May 2022, 9:49 PM

Hundreds of Filipino expats in the UAE were relieved to have been able to cast their ballots on the last day of voting for the Philippine elections. Some had to take a day off work and wait in a queue under the mid-day sun on Monday.

Voting is officially over and counting has begun. Back in Manila, votes have started trickling in from polling precincts across the nation and the world.

Fifty-year-old architect John Doringo was among those who made sure he was at the Philippine consulate in Dubai before the 3pm cut-off time.

John Doringo. Photo: Rahul Gajjar
John Doringo. Photo: Rahul Gajjar

“(Within the month-long overseas absentee voting period,) I tried coming here three times to vote but the queue was so long that I had to keep changing my dates. Today, the queue was relatively shorter compared to the previous days,” said Doringo, who has been living in the UAE for 22 years.

All these efforts, he said, are for his homeland. “I am looking forward to a change in governance. We hope the new government will help us, overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), change our minds and inspire us to go back to the Philippines. I hope the new government will have a better plan for OFWs.”

Chaty Cabantac, who works for an automotive company, quietly waited for her turn in a corner allocated to pregnant women.

Chaty Cabantac. Photo: Rahul Gajjar
Chaty Cabantac. Photo: Rahul Gajjar

Her vote in the elections, Cabantac said, is a vote for the future of her children. “I know it is very hot, but despite everything and my condition, I requested my boss for a few hours off so that I could come here and vote. It’s my first time voting from overseas. It is our responsibility as Filipinos to vote for the future of our country,” she added.

Other mums and parents came with their babies, too, as they had nobody to mind them at home. Grace Flordeliza cradled her child as she waited.

Grace Flordeliza.  Photo: Rahul Gajjar
Grace Flordeliza. Photo: Rahul Gajjar

“My husband took a day off. We brought our kids here today because we don’t have a nanny. It’s important to vote because it’s for the future of our country as well as for the next generation,” Flordeliza said.

“We are looking for a positive change, a leadership which has a concrete plan and can create more jobs for OFWs back home.”

John Angel, who came with his wife and daughter, also took a leave from work so he can have a say on the future of the Philippines.

John Angel with wife and daughter. Photo: Rahul Gajjar
John Angel with wife and daughter. Photo: Rahul Gajjar

“I wish to see a transparent government and an end to corruption. Additionally, I wish to see a change in the quality of life for everyone… better healthcare centres, education for children, and better job opportunities,” Angel said.

Other expats didn’t make it to the polls as the 3pm cutoff time was strictly followed.

“I checked the website and online it said voting until 3.30pm or maybe… I read it wrong,” said Tourine.

“My friend and I were really upset that despite our best efforts we couldn’t make it in time. I work in a trading company and my friend works at a flower shop. We came from Deira and wrapped up our work early to be here, but the doors are already closed.” Here is a photo of Tourine and her friend:

Success of overseas absentee voting

The 30-day run of the overseas absentee voting in the UAE had been smooth-sailing, residents and officials have said.

Philippine Ambassador to the UAE Hjayceelyn M. Quintana recently commended the elections team for ensuring a “smooth, organised process”.

At the Philippine Embassy in Abu Dhabi, voters noticed the big changes citing that “because of the fast, efficient, and seamless way of casting votes, long queues have become a thing of the past”, Quintana said.

“The embassy tried its best to make voters feel comfortable to ensure a pleasant voting experience.”


Renato N. Duenas, Jr, Philippine Consul-General in Dubai, and Northern Emirates, said the mission’s hectic days over the past month were all worth it.

“All in all, the past 30 days have been tiring but we are glad that the overseas registered voters here in Dubai and Northern Emirates have come here to vote. We are happy that they are interested in participating in this electoral process. The results will be posted inside the consulate… as soon as we finish counting and the certificates are signed.”

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