DUBAI: The just-concluded absentee voting (OAV) for the Philippine midterm elections proved one thing: Support for President Duterte by overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the UAE has not waned.
And if numbers can tell a story, that will be of a head of state enjoying the same level of support and confidence he had across oceans, back when he was running for a seat in the Malacanang Palace almost three years ago.
Indeed, the midterm elections where UAE OFWs gave a resounding approval to Duterte’s endorsements, to the point where, pundits says, it bordered on blind, cultic following, is an affirmation of the legacy that his administration is trying to build.
Winning the race further galvanized Duterte’s hold on power and gave him fresh carte blanche authority to push his agenda.
Leading the pack were Ronald dela Rosa, popularly “bato,” former chief of the Philippine National Police; Bong Go, who rose from oblivion doing selfies while being Duterte’s special assistant; and Imee Marcos, daughter of former strongman Ferdinand Marcos who ruled the country by decree for almost two decades in the 70s and early 80s.
Voices and turnouts
Registered Filipino voters in the UAE made their voices known as they participated in the month-long electoral exercise that took place at the Philippine Embassy and Consulate from April 13 to May 13.
Abu Dhabi saw 15,806 votes cast or 14.48% of the 109,130 total registered voters.
Dubai and the Northern Emirates had 28,487 actual votes or 13.57% of the 209, 862 registered voters. In the 2013 midterm elections, Dubai registered a 6.35% turnout or 3,545 of the 55,842 registered voters.
The turnout this year is an increase of 5.68% compared to the 2013 midterm elections that saw only 8.8% of voter turnout for the UAE.
Abu Dhabi figures reflect a 373.66% increase of voters compared to the 2013 exercise where only 3,337 voted.
Ambassador Hjayceelyn Quintana and Consul General Paul Raymund Cortes praised efforts of OFWs who took time out of their busy schedule to vote.
“To our kababayans, I commend those who exercised their right to vote. Voting is the highest act of patriotism that every Filipino can perform. I’m proud of all those who did not let the simple inconveniences get in the way,” said Quintana.
Majority of the OFW vote that comprised the ‘Magic 12’ went toward candidates who have openly expressed support for, or were candidates endorsed by, President Rodrigo Duterte.
Aside from Dela Rosa, Go and Marcos, these include Sen. Kiko Pimentel, Smartmatic whistle blower, Glenn Chong, former political adviser to the president, Francis Tolentino, as well as guest candidates Sonny Angara, Pia Cayetano, Cynthia Villar, Larry Gadon, and Doc Willie Ong.
Senator Grace Poe was the only Independent candidate to complete the list.
Quintana and Cortes meantime took the opportunity to commend the embassy and consulate staff as well as the Filipino community volunteers who have all been instrumental to ensure smooth operations throughout the month-long overseas absentee voting.
Duterte, who has support from overseas Filipino workers across the world, won by a huge landslide in the UAE during the 2016 presidential elections.
In the UAE, Duterte got 51,879 from the total 62,103 actual votes – or some 83.5%. Actual voters’ turnout was 31.74 percent of 195,651 registered voters, according to the Philippine embassy.