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Filipinos swamp Consulate in bid to beat deadline for voter registration

22 September 2021

By Vir B. Lumicao 

Registrants on Sunday had to wait 7 hours to get up to the Consulate offices

Filipinos trying to beat the Sept 30 deadline for overseas voter registration for next May’s general elections have swamped the Consulate in large numbers for the second Sunday in on Sept 19.

Consulate staff and volunteers also had their hands full the past two Saturdays as hundreds of OFWs also took a time out from other activities to register.

Tomorrow being a statutory holiday, would have given a chance to many other Filipino domestic workers to register, but the Consulate will be closed. That means there is only one other weekend before the deadline when other Filipino migrant workers can register.

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Consul General Raly Tejada says it is regrettable that the pandemic has limited the chances of Filipinos to go to the Consulate to register.

“Am sure kung di lang dahil sa pandemya ay lahat sana ay naka rehistro ng maayos noon pa,” ConGen Tejada said.  (Am sure were it not for the pandemic, everyone should have been registered smoothly back then).

He said that about 600 registrants had turned up last Sunday, and even if a big number were still in the queue when the Consulate closed for the day at 4pm, the Overseas Voters Registration Team was still able to register everyone.


Amid the weekend deluge, Congen Tejada called on those who have yet to register to exercise their right to vote.

 “I continue to appeal to all to exercise their civic duty and register to vote,” he said. Again, I wish to remind everyone that weekdays are less crowded.”

But he assured that everyone who turns up, even during the coming weekend when another deluge is expected, will still be listed up.


“Uubusin pa din namin ang sinumang nakapila sa darating na Sabado at Linggo. Homestretch na po dahil hanggang ngayong buwan na lamang ang registration period.

(But, like today, we will finish anyone on the queue this coming Saturday and Sunday. It’s the homestretch because the registration period will be only until the end of the month.)

The queue extended all the way to the bridge linking United Centre to another building

At around 3:30pm Sunday, a queue formed by two to three persons abreast, still snaked around the second floor of United Centre, where the lifts going up to the Consulate’s 14th floor offices are located.

Unlike in previous Sundays where as many people as could fit in the Consulate’s service area were allowed in, only 10 people at a time were cleared to go up the lifts this time around.

Tunghayan ang isa na namang kwentong Dream Love

Those at the head of the queue said they had arrived at 8am that day, and were told to line up at the bridge connecting United Centre to other nearby buildings. It took them another hour and a half before they managed to set foot in the building housing the Consulate.

 "Yung iba po siguro mga 5 or 6am pa pumila, kasi marami nang tao noong dumating kami,” said a tired-looking Filipina who had lined up with a friend. “Yung ibang kasabay namin umalis na lang.”

(I think there were others who came as early as 5am or 6am just to line up, because there were already a lot of people when we came. Those who came at the same time decided to just leave).

A corner away, people were complaining why the line was hardly moving. They said they had been in the queue since 1:30pm and were tired and hungry. A few of them risked incurring the ire of some eagle-eyed security personnel and sat on the floor to wait.

Asked why they did not take the chance to register earlier, they said it was only now that they had the time to do it.      

A volunteer marshalling the queue said there were more people the previous Sunday, when the triple line stretched from the corner near Metro Remittance to the northern escalator, almost ringing the lift lobby.

The record Saturday crowd at the Consulate on Sept 18

Last Saturday a record number of people also turned up to register. One of them, Ever Ramos from the Domestic Workers Corner Saturday group, said she and some friends lined up in the public hall at 11:30am and completed the process only at 5:50pm. 

She said the huge turnout was partly due to the misunderstanding that Saturday was the only day in the week when Filipinos could register. Even those whose day-off was Sunday asked permission from their employers to go out so they could register

"Kasi ang pagkakaalam nila ay wala nang ibang araw. Kaya dumagsa talaga ng tao. Sabi ko sa kanila pang-Saturday na off lang. Ang iba nakikipagtalo pa eh, wala daw ibang araw, Sabado lang daw,” Ramos said.

(They thought there was no other day. So, a big crowd came. I told them it was only for those who have their day off on a Saturday. Others argued it was only on Saturday.)

Some volunteers, however, blamed the overcrowding on other people’s penchant for procrastination. They observed that in the early days of the OVR, only about eight or 10 people would come to register on a Sunday.

This was confirmed by Cherry Ann, a migrant worker who is thankful that she took the advise to register after she submitted her new employment contract in September last year.

"Walang katao-tao,” she recalls, as she was there on a weekday. (There was no one else around).

But her attitude was rare. The volunteers said that most OFWs who were encouraged to register while they were at the Consulate for other businesses often said, “Saka na lang, matagal pa naman ang eleksiyon.”  (Later on, the elections are still far away).

Registrants are herded into the lift 10 at a time after hours of waiting in the lobby

Voting interest is high among the more than 200,000 Filipinos in Hong Kong, as the May 9, 2022 general elections will include the election of a new president to replace the incumbent, Rodrigo R. Duterte.

On Sunday, boxing star Manny Pacquiao heightened overseas Filipinos' interest in the elections when he announced he will run for president. Pacquiao, who is popular among migrant workers, especially the men, will be running against several other candidates, including fellow Senators Ping Lacson and Bong Go, and possibly Vice President Leni Robredo.

Duterte, who cannot run for a second term, has announced he will run as Go’s running mate, but there is speculation he could just be warming the seat for his daughter, Sara, who is being pushed by his own party as their choice for president.

Another candidate who could win the OFs' nod is Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, a former actor who is banking on his high visibility on social media to win votes. He is running alongside Dr Willie Ong, another popular social media personality who, however, lost in his previous bid to become a senator.

Apart from electing a new president and vice-president, Filipino overseas voters will also elect senators and a party-list, whose nominee/s will sit in the House of Representatives if it gets enough votes.

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