June 14, 2024

Beso-beso, hugging, and taking of selfie photos close to one another are among the campaign activities that are considered election offenses during the 2022 national and local elections.

Handshakes, hugs, going arm-in-arm, or any action that involves physical contact among candidates and their supporters with voters will also be strictly prohibited as per Resolution 10732 issued Nov. 24 by the Commission on Elections, which restricts in-person campaign activities during an election due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

The campaign period officially starts on Feb. 8 to May 7, 2022 for national positions (president, vice president, senators, and party-list groups) and on March 25 to May 7, 2022 for local positions (district representatives, governor, vice governor, provincial board, mayor, vice mayor, and city/town council members) excluding April 14 (Maundy Thursday) and 15 (Good Friday).

Comelec Baguio Election Officer John Paul Martin said in-person campaign will be regulated to prevent further outbreak of Covid-19 cases as a result of close contact between candidates, their supporters, and the voters, which had been the norm during elections in the country.

The resolution mandates that during all election campaign activities, candidates, and participants shall observe the minimum public health standards at all times.

Other in-person activities strictly prohibited in all category levels are entering any private dwelling, even with the express permission of the homeowner; crowding or allowing there to be, crowds that violate MPHS around the candidate and his or her companions; taking selfies, photos, and other similar activities that require close proximity between the candidate, their companions, and the public; and distribution of food and drinks and all other goods or items.

All activities that require close physical contact are also strictly prohibited during conventions, caucuses, miting de avances, and rallies in all category levels.

Motorcades and caravans are allowed but also with restrictions depending on an area’s category level, except for categories 4 and 5 where the same are completely not allowed.

Category levels 1 to 5 as classified by the National Comelec Campaign Committee will be observed and are described as new normal equivalent to alert levels 1 to 5, respectively, of the Inter-Agency Task Force’s alert level system.

Martin asked the candidates not to challenge the rules because Comelec as much as possible would not like to impose sanctions of imprisonment of one year, perpetual disqualification to hold public office, and deprivation of right of suffrage for this kind of election offense.

“Take note that this resolution is for the protection of our voters and the candidates as well. Kasi kung sakaling may outbreak because of their campaign, what will happen to the voters, what will happen to the candidates? ‘Yun sana ang isaalang-alang ng ating mga kandidato. They have to strictly adhere to these rules, otherwise masasakripisyo ang kanilang boto, pati na rin ang kanilang kalusugan,” Martin said.

The Comelec is tapping barangay officials nationwide as those authorized to monitor in-person activities, prevent its commission, and ensure compliance with MPHS.

Comelec Cordillera Director Ederlino Tabilas reminded the upcoming elections will be different compared to the previous years, reason why resolutions that governed previous elections have been amended to cope with the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.

He assured the Comelec will do its best to cope to ensure next year’s elections will be safe, fair, and credible. – Hanna C.   Lacsamana