Faith, religion deciding factors in Filipino polls - GulfToday

Faith, religion deciding factors in Filipino polls


Filipinos voting at the Consulate General in Dubai on Saturday. Kamal Kassim/Gulf Today

Mariecar Jara-Puyod, Senior Reporter

It was the last weekend of the month-long overseas voting and Filipinos on Friday and Saturday continually flowed in and flocked to the two Philippine diplomatic missions in Abu Dhabi and Dubai and two satellite centres, ahead of the May 13 (Monday) mid-term elections back home.

Consul General for Dubai and the Northern Emirates Paul Raymund Cortes WhatsApped on Saturday: “You missed the crowd yesterday. It was the record breaking day.”

On Saturday, Philippine Embassy-Abu Dhabi Second Secretary/Consul Rowena Pangilinan-Daquipil WhatsApped: “Ang daming bumoto kahapon (Many voted yesterday—Friday). The largest number of voters we had in a day.”

“It is the last minute swell. A lot went to Chelsea Hotel and Asiana Hotel where I was there on Friday,” a Philippine Consulate General-Dubai (PCGDXB) officer who requested not to be named said.

On Saturday too, as they allowed entry to the PCGDXB, the two non-Filipino security guards stationed at the reception, volunteered one after the other: “Many, many people here (on Friday).”

One had earlier shared: “There were six here at 6am to vote, today.”

Meanwhile, the common observation that faith and religion have a strong influence in Philippine politics surfaced when Gulf Today was granted interviewed by two families, among the first batch of voters for the 9am to 9pm field voting at the Asiana Hotel in Deira.

The Gahol family with two daughters born and raised in the UAE have been Dubai residents for the past 26 years.

They belong to the Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church of Christ) founded in the Philippines in 1914 as an “independent non-trinitarian Christian religious sect” whose leadership traditionally decides whom their members, spread out all over the world, must vote for in all general and presidential elections.

It was several days back when the INC leadership in Manila announced their senatorial bets.

Manuel Gahol, the father, said: “We only spent 15 minutes at the precincts. This place is more convenient for us. It is Saturday and all of us are on our day off. We are only here now because we had to discuss as a family whom to vote. We have to be united as a family in our bets. We also have to be united with the INC because we are family.”

The Ramos couple Luis and Mary were with two of their three sons.

Luis said they tarried in voting because as members of the Pasay Baptist Church in Dubai, they first had to pray for their bets as they sought God’s guidance as well.

“It is a bit late and we do not want to let this pass. We know we must exercise our right to vote. But, we had to ask for God’s guidance and pray for our bets. We only came up with six bets for the senators.”

They took along their two younger sons, ages five and eight, as the 13-year-old was left at home, because “Mamalengke rin po kami” (“We are going to the wet market for our weekly fresh food supplies.”)

Earlier in the day, Roy Tamano whose family is going to have their traditional Maranao (Filipino-Muslim tribe in the Lanao Provinces in Central Mindanao) Iftar at a relative’s house in Al Qusais, Dubai, said he would first cast his vote at nearby PCGDXB at 6pm.

Families with young children in tow and elderly couples with their grown-up children and other family members have been a normal sight at the ongoing overseas voting.

For Sunday, Filipinos in Dubai and the Northern Emirates can cast their votes at the Philippine Overseas Labour Office next door to the PCGDXB.

Filipinos are reminded that the two Philippine diplomatic posts shall accommodate voters from 6am to 2pm on May 13, Monday. These shall be closed for voting at 2pm in synchrony to the 6pm closure of all polling precincts throughout the Philippines.

They are encouraged to check their enlistment over the PCGDXB website They must present either their valid Philippine passport or Emirates national identification card for the vote of 12 senators and one party-list representative.

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