COMELEC turns down voting privilege for SEAG-bound athletes

Published December 14, 2021, 2:45 PM

by Kristel Satumbaga-Villar

The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) has politely turned down the Philippine Sports Commission’s (PSC) proposal to allow Southeast Asian Games-bound athletes, coaches and officials to vote in the 2022 National Elections under the Local Absentee Voting provision.

The PSC disclosed this Tuesday, saying that only personnel falling in four categories are allowed under the Omnibus Election Code, Executive Order No. 157, Republic Acts 7166 and 10380, as well as COMELEC Resolution No. 10725.

They are government officials and employees, members of the Philippine National Police, members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines who are assigned in places where they are not registered voters, and members of the media who are covering or reporting the conduct of the elections.

The COMELEC, through its reply to PSC’s written proposal, informed that athletes, coaches and delegates are not part of the aforementioned groups.

While this was a sad development, the COMELEC advised the PSC that only national athletes who are also military personnel or fall under any of the other categories mentioned may register for Local Absentee Voting.

The overall lineup for the SEAG, however, has yet to be finalized.

The national elections are set May 9, 2022 while the rescheduled 31st SEAG in Hanoi, Vietnam is on May 12 to 23. Though the biennial meet opening is three days later than the elections, delegates are expected to be at the venue to comply with stringent health and safety protocols brought by the pandemic.

It was also customary for delegates to be at the venue a few days before the opening to acclimatize at competition venues.