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SEAG athletes to miss 2022 elections

The Philippine athletes would have to give up their chance to vote as they fly to Hanoi for the SEA Games. Jade Moya (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--The Filipino athletes that would be chosen to compete in next year's Southeast Asian Games would have to make a sacrifice of missing the presidential elections as well.

The Philippine Sports Commission confirmed on Tuesday that the national team that will travel to Hanoi for the regional sports meet will not be able to exercise their right of suffrage even on an absentee voting scale.

Traditionally being done late in an odd-numbered year, the 31st edition of the SEA Games, supposed to be ongoing as of posting, has been postponed to May 12-23, 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

While the national elections would come a few days earlier on May 9, many Filipino athletes and officials would already be in Hanoi by that time, thus potentially missing the elections.

The PSC proposed to the Commission on Elections to declare them as local absentee voters for next year.

But COMELEC has notified the PSC that it is rejecting the request.

"The COMELEC has politely turned down the proposal citing the Omnibus Election Code, Executive Order no. 157, Republic Acts 7166 and 10380, and COMELEC Resolution No. 10725 which states that only personnel from four groups may avail of local absentee voting," the PSC said in a statement.

Only government officials, policemen, and soldiers assigned in places where they are not registered voters and reporters who are covering the elections are eligible to avail of the local absentee voting privilege.

While this should be fine for the athletes who fall under the aforementioned categories, this would be sad news for those who are not a part of the said groups.

"The COMELEC letter informed that since the athletes, coaches, and delegates are not part of the aforementioned groups who will be performing election duties they cannot act upon the PSC’s request," the PSC further said.

The agency then said that it has to live through it.

"While this is sad news for all concerned, the PSC Board respects COMELEC’s advice," the PSC further stated.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno

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