The do's and don'ts during campaign season amid the pandemic
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the official campaign period for national candidates of Eleksyon 2022 started on Tuesday, February 8, and will run until May 7, 2022.
For the local elective posts, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) set the campaign period from March 25, 2022 to May 7, 2022.
Under the Fair Elections Act, here are some of the do's and don'ts that political candidates need to keep in mind while they woo voters this election season.
Holy Week, Election Day
Candidates and political parties must not engage in election campaign or partisan political activity on Maundy Thursday (April 14, 2022), Good Friday (April 15, 2022), the eve of election day (May 8, 2022) and on Election Day (May 9, 2022).
Candidates and political parties must not also accept aid or any influence in connection with election campaigns or partisan political activity from foreigners.
Candidates and political parties are allowed to spend for election campaign but with limitations.
a. For candidates for President and Vice-President: P10.00 for every registered voter
b. For candidates with political party: P3.00 for every voter currently registered in the constituency where the candidate filed his certificate of candidacy;
c. For other candidates without any political party and without support from any political party: P5.00 for every voter currently registered in the constituency where the candidate filed his certificate of candidacy;
d. For political parties and party-list groups: P5.00 for every voter currently registered in the constituency or constituencies where it has official candidates.
Do's, don'ts for election propaganda
The Comelec allows election propaganda on television, radio, and in print, as long as they follow the rules.
a. Pamphlets, leaflets, cards, decals, stickers or other written or printed materials must not exceed eight and one-half inches (8 ½”) in width and fourteen inches (14”) in length;
b. Handwritten or printed letters urging voters to vote for or against any particular political party or candidate for public office;
c. Cloth, paper or cardboard posters, whether framed or posted, must have an area not exceeding two (2) feet by three (3) feet, except that, at the site and on the occasion of a public meeting or rally, or in announcing the holding of said meeting or rally, streamers not exceeding three (3) feet by eight (8) feet in size, shall be allowed: Provided, That said streamers may be displayed five (5) days before the date of the meeting or rally and shall be removed within twenty-four (24) hours after said meeting or rally;
d. Paid advertisements in print or broadcast media
But the poll body also banned the following election propaganda activities:
a. To print or publish any newspaper, newsletter, newsweekly, gazette or magazine advertising, pamphlet, leaflet, card or any published or printed political matter and to air or broadcast any election propaganda or political advertisement by television or radio for or against a candidate or group of candidates to any public office, unless they bear and be identified by the reasonably legible, or audible words “political advertisement paid for,” followed by the true and correct name and address of the candidate or party for whose benefit the election propaganda was printed or aired.
b. To publish any such election propaganda donated or given free of charge by any person or publishing firm or broadcast media entity to a candidate or party without the written acceptance of the said candidate or party, and unless they bear and be identified by the words "printed free of charge,” or “airtime for this broadcast was provided free of charge by”, respectively, followed by the true and correct name and address of the said publishing firm or broadcast entity;
c. To show, display or exhibit publicly in a theater, through a television station, a video sharing site, social media network, or any public forum any movie, cinematography or documentary, including concert or any type of performance portraying the life or biography of a candidate, or in which a character is portrayed by an actor or media personality who is himself or herself a candidate;
d. For any newspaper or publication, radio, television or cable television station, or other mass media entity, or any person making use of the mass media to sell or give free print or advertising space or airtime for campaign or election propaganda purposes to any candidate or party in excess of the size, duration or frequency authorized by law or these Rules.
e. To print or distribute any election campaign or propaganda materials that are violative of gender sensitivity principles, is obscene, offensive, discriminatory, or otherwise constitutes a violation of the Magna Carta of Women
f. To post election campaign or propaganda material outside of authorized common poster areas, in public places, or in private properties without the consent of the owner.
The Comelec identified public places as publicly owned electronic announcement boards, motor vehicles, mass public transport owned by the government, waiting sheds, sidewalks, schools, and premises of public transport terminals, among others.
Do's, don'ts for social media campaigning
For campaigning on social media platforms, the Comelec said, regardless of format, whether original or reposted from some source, which may either be incidental to the poster’s advocacies of social issues or which may have, for its primary purpose, the endorsement of a candidate only.
Candidates are also only allowed to conduct campaigning on verified accounts, websites, blogs, and/or social media pages.
Candidates must also disclose spending on campaign ads via social media.
However, candidates must not engage microtargeting of electoral ads “provided that electoral ads can be targeted using only the following criteria: geographical location, except radius around a specific location; age; and gender; provided further that contextual targeting options may also be used in combination with the above-mentioned criteria.”
Candidates are also prohibited from producing online campaign propaganda that are misleading or unjustifiably cast doubt on the integrity of the elections.
Do's and don'ts for physical sorties
To keep the public safe, the Comelec allows physical sorties provided that safety protocols are being followed.
These health protocols include:
1. wearing of face mask and face shield;
2. one-meter physical distancing;
3. frequent disinfection of hands; and
4. proper cough and sneezing etiquette.
Under Section 14 of Comelec Resolution 10372, the following activities are also strictly prohibited during in-person campaigns in all Alert Level category levels:
- handshakes, hugs, kisses, going arm-in-arm in 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;
- distribution of food and drink, and all other goods or items
- entering any private dwelling during house-to-house campaigning, even with the express permission of the homeowner; and
- crowding, or allowing crowds that violate minimum public health standards (MPHS) around the candidate and his or her companions.
A candidate or campaign leader may also only be accompanied by up to three campaign staff only during an in-person campaign in areas under Alert Level 3. For those under Alert Level 2, up to five campaign staff is allowed.
There is no limit of campaign staff for areas under Alert Level 1.
Meanwhile, in-person campaigning in areas under Alert Level 4 and 5 is not allowed.
For caucuses, meetings, conventions, rallies, and miting de avance, the following venue capacity is allowed under the following alert statuses:
- Alert Level 1: 70% in indoor and outdoor venues
- Alert Level 2: 50% in indoor and outdoor venues
- Alert Level 3: 50% outdoor venues only
- Alert Level 4: 30% outdoor venues only
- Alert Level 5: Not allowed
Campaign organizing staff must also submit a notarized Affidavit of Compliance with Health Protocols to the Comelec with territorial jurisdiction over the place where the in-person campaign activity was conducted within 24 hours after the conclusion of any in-person campaign activity.
Under the Fair Elections Act, any election offense will be punishable under Section 264 of the Omnibus Election Code which enforces imprisonment of not less than one year but not more than six years.
Moreover, the guilty party will be disqualified to hold public office and will be deprived of voting.
Any political party found guilty of an election offense will pay not less than P10,000 after criminal action has been instituted in which their officials have been found guilty. —with Giselle Ombay/BM/KG/KBK, GMA News