It's all systems go for the start of filing of certificates of candidacy (COC) for those seeking to run in the 2022 national and local elections amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Tina Panganiban-Perez's report on Saksi on Thursday.
Interviewed on Unang Balita on Friday, Commission on Elections (Comelec) spokesperson James Jimenez said health protocols will be strictly implemented during the filing at the Harbor Garden Tent inside the Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila compound in Pasay City.
Those filing their certificates of candidacy will have to take antigen test, Jimenez said. Those who would turn out positive will be brought to an isolation area.
"Libre yan para sa mga kandidato [it's free for those who would file their candidacy]," he said.
"Pag nag-positive sila [If they test positive] they will not be allowed inside and they will be taken to the isolation area," Jimenez said.
"Magkakaroon tayo ng protocols para ma-inform yung appropriate health authorities ng kanilang positive test [We'll have protocols to inform the appropriate health authorities about the positive results]."
The filing would be held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. from October 1 to 8. The official list of candidates may be released by December, Jimenez said.
Jimenez urged the applicants to fill out their forms properly. "If they are not properly filled out you will be turned away," he said.
Those who would file their COCs at Sofitel are those running for president, vice president, senator and party-list representative.
Prior to the start of the filing, members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) inspected the Sofitel compound where the filing would be held. The inspection covered the parking lot, the area designated for the rapid antigen test, the area set up for the filing of COCs, and the entry and exit areas of the aspirants.
There will about 3,000 PNP personnel, soldiers, members of the Philippine Coast Guard, and Bureau of Fire Protection who will be deployed to secure the area.
Also on standby within the compound are firetrucks, police armored vehicles, and ambulances.
No-fly and no-fishing zones have been declared within one kilometer radius of the area starting midnight of Sept. 30 until the end of the time for CoC filing on Oct. 8, 2021.
PNP National Capital Regional Police Office chief Police Major General Vicente Danao said the security plan and security measures are already in place.
"Wala po tayong seryosong threat na nare-receive," said Danao. "So far, we are ready naman, in case, of any eventuality that may happen."
The Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will assist in making sure there would be a steady flow of traffic in the area.
MMDA Traffic Operation Officer V Emmanuel Miro said the thoroughfares that will be affected by the week-long activity are: Atang dela Rama, Buendia Avenue, Jalandoni, and Vicente Sotto.
No more 'fiesta'
Aspirants are allowed a limited number of supporters into the venue due to the ongoing pandemic. All Comelec employees on duty have been fully vaccinated.
All those entering the venue must present a negative COVID test result.
"Hindi na mangyayari yung mala-fiesta na filing kasi nga nasa pandemya tayo," Comelec Chairperson Sheriff Abas said.
"So we already coordinated that with our partner agencies, like the MMDA and PNP na siguraduhin walang magkukumpol-kumpol na mga tao sa labas."
Comelec offices in the provinces are ready to accept the CoC of aspirants in their areas.
Abas said the regional offices were already given pointers on how to implement health protocols during the filing of CoCs.
Voter registration, meanwhile, although extended by the poll body, will be temporarily suspended to give way to the filing of CoCs.
Registration will be open again on Oct. 11 to 30, 2021. -- BAP/KBK/RSJ, GMA News