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Pinoy Abroad

Philippine Consulate in Dubai denies claims of pre-shading of ballots

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – The Philippine Consulate General’s Office (PCGO) here has refuted reports of pre-shading of ballots as the overseas absentee voting (OAV) gets underway with a huge turnout on its first day.

The matter stemmed from an apparent post circulating on social media about a supposed pre-shaded ballot found by a voter on Palm Sunday, April 10, the first day of voting.

“The Consulate firmly denies this. No such incident or anything remotely similar occurred or was reported,” PCGO said in the statement, stressing as well that poll watchers from at least five different political parties present during the entire voting period likewise witnessed or  reported no irregularity.

PCGO said such incidents, if they do occur at all, are recorded and officially submitted to the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) for action.

The Consulate advised Filipino voters in Dubai to be vigilant against fake information and not to spread disinformation on social media or messaging apps.

“The Consulate strongly advises the public against posting and/or spreading unverified and/or unsubstantiated allegations online, whether on social media or messaging applications and that such acts are prohibited under UAE laws,” it said.

Likewise, PCGO explained that there were proper channels to address such situations, saying “(voters) are entitled to raise any issue with the election board regarding any…irregularity that they may encounter.”

The first day of the overseas absentee voting in the UAE had a huge turnout with voters trooping to the consulate in Dubai and the embassy in Abu Dhabi to queue up and vote as early as by sunrise.

While it was not immediately made clear whether official announcements can be made about the number of voters who participated, it was estimated that the figure could be over 3,000.

Ambassador Hjayceelyn M. Quintana said she was elated with the turnout. “I thank our compatriots for their cooperation, including volunteers and poll watchers,” the ambassador said.

She added that the huge turnout reflects on the UAE Filipino community’s desire to exercise their right of suffrage. She also noted the orderly conduct of the electoral exercise and attributed this to the preparations made by the Philippine foreign missions.

The UAE has the biggest number of registered overseas absentee voters among country destinations of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) all over  the world, with a total of 290,182.

Of this number, 191,779 are in Dubai, the highest figure among cities across the world where OFWs work. Before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, Dubai was home to approximately 500,000 Filipinos.—LDF, GMA News