Reminder to bets: No kiss, no selfies, no handouts
MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) and Interior Secretary Eduardo Año reminded all candidates and their staff to abide by campaign guidelines and health protocols on Monday, a day before the start of the campaign period for those running for national posts.
In a radio interview, Año called on candidates to comply with the poll body’s guidelines for campaigning amid the COVID-19 pandemic that were aimed at ensuring zero physical contact and preventing superspreader events.
At the same time, he urged their supporters to avail themselves of the different social media platforms instead of physically attending their candidates’ proclamation rallies or “miting de avance.”
“The salient point (in the Comelec rules) is no close contact or person-to-person contact campaigning,” Año told dzBB, adding: “No kisses, handshakes, selfies and no handouts.”
“The Comelec will be strict on the candidates. [It] will apply the penalty provision of the Omnibus Election Code where they can be jailed for up to six years and banned from occupying public positions,” he said.
As for errant supporters, they can also be charged with violating Republic Act No. 11332 or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act and ordinances, Año added.
During the televised Laging Handa public briefing, Comelec Education and Information Department (EID) director Elaiza David said that guidelines for in-person campaigning, rallies, meetings and other gatherings had been transmitted to the poll body’s field offices.
These also covered prescribed indoor and outdoor venue capacities, and prohibitions against the distribution of food and other items, handshakes, selfies and entering dwellings, among others.
“So far, we haven’t seen any possible aberrations and [with] the start of the campaign period, all the guidelines that our field officials should know about and should implement have been cascaded to them so that they can brief the candidates in their areas of jurisdiction,” David said.
She added that Comelec preparations and operations were continuing with election timetables and schedules being complied with despite the change in leadership due to the recent retirement of the poll body’s chair and two commissioners.
The printing of ballots, David said, was on schedule, but the publication of the list of voters had been reset from Feb. 8 to March 29 to give local election offices enough time to remove the names of deceased voters and double or multiple registrants.
New normal setup
According to her, the National Comelec Campaign Committee headed by Commissioner Rey Bulay would be overseeing the implementation of health protocols and other campaign rules under a “new normal” setup.
Also members of the committee were the Department of Health, the Department of the Interior and Local Government, the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines, with the EID acting as the secretariat.
“Because we are now in a ‘new normal,’ it’s no longer like the previous way of campaigning [where] the candidate can think about anything [they] would like to do and do it. Now, there are restrictions,” David said.
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