The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is considering the release of the 2022 national and local election guidelines on October 1, including the rules on the “in-person” campaigning, Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said Thursday.
In an online forum, Jimenez said the poll body is currently coordinating with health authorities, particularly the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), to finalize the guidelines for next year's polls amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Hindi pa man tapos ang guidelines natin ine-expect natin na mailalabas natin yan by October 1,” Jimenez said.
(The guidelines are not yet finalized but we expect to release this by October 1.)
Last June, Jimenez said the “new normal” guidelines may be released before October.
Giving a preview on the content of the guidelines, Jimenez said the Comelec is altering rules for “in-person” campaigning such as campaign rallies.
“Obviously, ‘di mawawala ang in-person campaigning magkakaroon pa rin ng mga rally pero makakaasa kayo na magbabago ang paraan ng pagra-rally,” he said.
(Obviously, we will still consider the in-person campaigning. There are rallies but expect that there will be changes in holding these gatherings.)
According to the spokesperson, they will allow rallies with limited audience to ensure that social distancing is observed.
“‘Di sila pwedeng magdikit-dikit ‘di tulad dati na talagang shoulder-to-shoulder ‘yung mga nag-aattend ng mga rally. Ngayon kung may audience man kailangan mayroong social distancing,” he said.
(We will not allow people to go near each other unlike before where you can see that the attendees are standing shoulder-to-shoulder. Now, we will impose social distancing.)
The Comelec will also prohibit politicians’ “public display of affection” to the audience. He said they won’t allow kissing, handshaking, and hugging during campaign rallies.
With the prohibition of mass gatherings, Jimenez told the public to be cautious and vigilant on social media as politicians are expected to utilize the platform for their 2022 campaigns.
“Mayroon mang in-person campaigning, napo-project natin, nape-predict natin na marami sa mga politiko ay tatalon sa social media,” he said.
(There may be in-person campaigning, but we project and we predict that these politicians will jump to social media platforms for their campaigns.)
“Nananawagan din kami sa inyo (youth) na sana maging mapagmatiyag kayo, sana maging aware kayo sa mga pinapanood ninyo, at sana maging mapanuri tayo,” he added.
(We urge the youth to be vigilant and aware of what you watch on social media and we hope that you will be critical in choosing your candidates.)
On the day of the election, Jimenez said the Comelec will prepare stations where voters will undergo health screening before they can enter the polling places.
Should a voter exhibit COVID-19 symptoms on election day, he will be directed to an “isolated polling place” to prevent any transmission.
“Naniniwala ang Comelec na ang pagkakaroon ng karamdaman ay hindi pwedeng dahilan para hindi kayo makaboto. Hindi po disqualifying ang pagkakaroon ng COVID,” Jimenez explained.
(We believe that having a disease should not be a reason to stop you from voting. Contracting COVID-19 should not be disqualifying.)
Moreover, Jimenez said accessible polling places will also be in place on the day of the election for voters who need assistance particularly senior citizens and persons with disabilities.
He reiterated that Comelec will not extend the voter registration period and instead the registration hours were expanded to accommodate more registrants.
The extended voting registration hours will start on August 23.
The last day of voter registration will be on September 30, 2021.
Politicians vying for national and local positions can file their Certificate of Candidacies from October 1 to 8, 2021.
The poll body earlier said it is eyeing setting specific dates for the filing of the certificates of candidacy per elective position.—LDF, GMA News