IN CHARTS: How overseas Filipinos voted in past elections

The 2022 Philippine elections is considered one of the most crucial polls in recent years, as the leaders to be elected will take care of the country post-pandemic.

These leaders will also serve and represent the millions of Filipino citizens overseas.

The Philippine Statistics Authority has pegged the number of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) at 2.2 million, as of 2019. The Commission on Filipinos Overseas has estimated the number to be up to 10.2 million to include permanent migrants.

Candidates are likely to have their eyes on the OFW vote, as hundreds of thousands of Filipinos abroad register every election. How have overseas Filipinos voted in the past five elections?

Here are the data from the Commission on Elections (Comelec) from 2007 to 2019.

Turnout

How many registered, and how many actually voted? Total registrations have been on a consistent upward trend, but that doesn’t necessarily mean there are more who actually vote each time.

Turnout per major area has not reached even half of registered voters in the past five elections. At its highest, it was 42.2% among Filipino voters in the Asia Pacific region in 2016.

Here’s a look at the data based on major area. Use the drop-down box to toggle the areas:

How do the continents’ voter turnouts compare with each other? 

Save for 2007 and 2013, the Asia Pacific region has dominated in terms of registered voters actually turning up to vote in the last five elections.

Meanwhile, the Middle East and Africa region overtook Asia Pacific in terms of the number of actual voters from 2016 onwards.

From 2007 to 2019, the peak of overseas voter turnout was during the 2016 elections, with 430,695 showing up to cast their votes. This comprised 0.96% of the total actual voters, including those in the Philippines.

The recent elections show that more go out and vote when a new president and vice president will be elected. The exception was in the 2019 midterm elections, compared to 2010.

But when comparing the same types of elections: presidential (2010 and 2016) and midterm (2007, 2013, 2019), there is an upward trend of actual voters for both types.

Which are the voter-rich countries?

In the last five elections, the five countries with the highest Filipino voter turnout have been consistent, just switching ranks with each other over the years. These are the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong, Singapore, and the United States.

The top five voter-rich countries contributed to over half of the total actual overseas voters in each election.

Who dominated?

Who were the frontrunners for the presidential and vice presidential posts in different regional areas? Let’s look at the canvass results of the 2010 and 2016 elections:

In 2010, all continental areas had Benigno Aquino III and Mar Roxas as their top choices. The eventual overall winners, when including the rest of the votes in the Philippines, were Aquino and Jejomar Binay.

In the 2016 elections, Rodrigo Duterte's landslide victory at home was consistent with Filipinos overseas. Meanwhile, vice presidential winner Leni Robredo ranked third in the overseas vote.

Vice presidential runner-up Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. dominated the overseas vote with Duterte.

In all major continental areas, the presidential preference was Duterte. Meanwhile, Marcos gained the highest number of votes for vice president in the Asia Pacific, Europe, and the Middle East and Africa, but not the Americas. Robredo won in North and Latin America.

Duterte's running mate, Alan Peter Cayetano, ranked second in the overseas vote.

In a May 6 email, Comelec overseas voting director Bea Wee-Lozada told Rappler that the agency was expecting a lower number of registrations for the 2022 elections because of the “significant” number of repatriated overseas Filipinos due to the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the Department of Foreign Affairs' latest tally, the government has repatriated more than 401,000 overseas Filipinos between February 2020 and May 15, 2021.

As of May 3, the total number of registered overseas voters stands at 1.4 million. Registration will end on September 30. – with reports from Michael Bueza/Rappler.com

Note: Except in the total figure in the “Top 5 countries with actual voters” chart, the turnout figures for seafarers are not included for now, pending Comelec’s clarification on the matter. 

Michelle Abad

Michelle Abad is a researcher-writer at Rappler. Possessing the heart and soul of a feminist, she is working on specializing in women's issues in Newsbreak, Rappler's investigative arm.

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