Mail-in ballots for POC elections on Nov. 27?

    Wait over. Hidilyn Diaz, already an Olympic silver medalist and World Championship bronze medal winner, finally wins her first Southeast Asian Games gold medal, clearly cherishing her latest feat.

    RIO Olympic Games silver medalist Hidily Diaz wants to cast her vote as a member of the POC Athletes Commission during the Philippine Olympic Committee elections on Nov. 27.
    But she is currently training in Malaysia and coming home just to vote is out of the question.

    The POC electoral committee wants to give her a concession: Fill up her ballot, seal it and send it before election day.

    “Since we are giving this option to Hidy (Diaz’s nickname), we might give the same option to the other voting NSAs,” electoral committee chairman Atty. Teddy Kalaw III said yesterday during an online meeting where all of the 51 regular POC members were represented.

    As further accommodation to the health and safety of the POC voting members, Kalaw said the candidates led by POC president Rep. Bambol Tolentino, who is running for reelection, and challenger and archery chief Atty. Clint are not required to be physically present on election day.

    Kalaw said that eligible POC officers who are members of two NSAs can also cast their votes as long as they are properly certified by their respective associations.

    Kalaw reminded those who joined the meeting that they have until this Friday to file their election protests while the final guidelines and protocols regarding the POC polls will be out by Nov. 16 together with the certified list of voters issued by POC secretary general Atty. Edwin Gastanes.

    As of yesterday, only Diaz can cast her vote via mail.

    Before the voting, all the voters present at the venue, the East Ocean Restaurant, need to undergo antigen tests for the coronavirus as required by the national government’s Inter-Agency Task Force regarding such public gatherings, according to Kalaw.

    Some NSA representatives at the meeting pushed for online voting but Kalaw said “that as far as we are concerned the default mode is still actual voting.”

    There were some issues that surfaced during the meeting, especially because some of the candidates and voters are senior citizens.

    Athletics chief Philip Juico, newly-elected canoe-kayak and dragon boat chief Teresita Uy

    and Bacolod-based weightlifting head Monico Puentevella, who are all over 70 years old, said they might not actually cast their ballots physically.

    Karate chief Ricky Lim said the same predicament was being faced by the ice skating association led by her late mother Josie Veguillas, who passed away last week, and whose secretary general Benito Lim is also in his seventies.

    Sympathetic to their concerns, Kalaw replied that they could assign a representative of their NSA to vote on their behalf on election day or have it sent in a sealed envelope to be opened and tallied during the political exercise.

    Kalaw noted that the other two members of the election committee – former International Olympic Committee representative to the Philippines Frank Elizalde and UP president Atty. Danilo Concepcion – are aged 88 and 62, respectively.