LGUs, police told to enforce COVID-19 protocols during campaign period

LGUs, police told to enforce COVID-19 protocols during campaign period
First-time voters sit on the curb outside a mall in Manila yesterday as the Commission on Elections resumed voter registration following the weeklong filing of candidacies.
Edd Gumban

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of the Interior and Local Government on Thursday reminded local government units and the Philippine National Police to strictly enforce restrictions on election-related activities needed in their areas.

This comes with the campaign period set to start on February 8 for national candidates and on March 25 for local candidates.

In a statement sent to media, Interiror Secretary Eduardo Año said LGUs and the PNP must ensure minimum public health standards are enforced during in-person "campaigns, rallies, caucuses, meetings and conventions; motorcades and caravans; and miting de advance."

"We will make sure that the LGUs comply with Comelec Resolution 10732 to ensure that our countrymen will be safe during the campaign. We are facing a much transmissible variant so we should not neglect even this election season," Año said.

"The health and safety of our countrymen is still a priority, so the DILG strongly reminds the LGUs and PNP to follow the rules of the Comelec," he added.

Año in an earlier advisory said that LGUs must adopt necessary measures and strategies to comply with the Comelec Resolution; streamline existing LGU policies with the issuance; and, ensure observance of the guidelines’ entirety within their locality. 

“The 2022 Election is a very important event for the country but we must take into consideration that we are still currently battling an enemy that thrives in gatherings. We expect LGUs and the PNP to strictly enforce the poll guidelines,” Año said. 

He added that the PNP is also called to maintain order and security and to impose strict observance of health standards during any election-related campaigns in coordination with the barangay officials, tanods, and the Barangay Health Emergency Response Teams. 

"LGUs need to mobilize all their law enforcement units to ensure that our compatriots who will join in these campaigns will be safe and away from COVID-19," Año said.

He urged impartiality and encouraged the LGUs and the Municipal or City Comelec Campaign Committee to avoid politics in granting campaign permits to both national and local candidates alike.  

“Please avoid partiality and bias in granting approval for these campaign activities. Let us prioritize the safety of our countrymen before politics, ”Año said.

What campaign activities are allowed? 

Comelec issued Resolution No. 10732 outlines the guidelines for the conduct of 2022 Election-related activities amid the new normal and the continuous threat of COVID-19’s Omicron variant. It also states specific conditions and allowable campaign activities that LGUs must implement "to safeguard both the citizens and candidates alike" during the campaign period. 

According to the resolution, in-person campaigning is not allowed for Alert Levels 4 and 5 while candidates or campaign leaders must only be accompanied by a maximum of five campaign support staff in Alert Level 2 and three for Alert Level 3.

  • For Alert Level 1, there's no limit to the number of companions the candidates can have.
  • For in-house campaigning, entering any private dwelling during house-to-house campaigning, even with the express permission of the homeowner; and, crowding, or allowing crowds that violate MPHS around the candidate and his or her companions are not allowed.

For caucuses, meetings, convention, rallies, and miting de advance:

  • 70% of the operational capacity of the venue, whether indoor or outdoor is allowed for Alert Level 1;
  • 50% of the operational capacity of the venue, whether indoor or outdoor for Level 2;
  • 50% of the operational capacity of the venue for enclosed outdoor only for Level 3;
  • 30% of the operational capacity of the venue for enclosed outdoors only for Level 4
  • For Level 5, none among the gatherings mentioned are permitted. 

During motorcades in all category levels, stopovers, layovers, and other similar stoppages for the conduct of other election campaign activities are likewise not permitted.

The Comelec also placed restrictions on physical contact among candidates, saying:

"In all Alert Levels, handshakes, hugs, kisses, going arm-in-arm, or any action that involves physical contact among the candidate, their companions, and the public; taking selfies, photographs and other similar activities that require close proximity between the candidate and their companions, and the public; and, distribution of food and drink, and all other goods or items are not allowed in all campaign activities mentioned."

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