Another Comelec resolution was promulgated on November 24, 2021. Comelec Resolution number 10732 provides for the guidelines in the conduct of in-person campaign, rallies, caucuses, meetings, conventions, motorcades, caravans and miting de avance under the new normal in preparation for the May 9, 2022 National and Local Elections. Since the pandemic began, restrictions were implemented most especially when it comes to conferences, meetings and gatherings. Most of us think that this is going to be prohibited since any form of gathering nowadays may become a super spreader event. The Comelec however, still recognizes citizens’ rights to organize and assemble, to speak freely and for candidates to campaign to make known their qualifications and platform of governance so that the voters may be properly informed.
Said new resolution also defines in-person campaigning as a form of campaigning wherein a candidate and his/her supporters personally visit the voters through house to house and other sorties in public places, distribute leaflets, give away sample ballots and other campaign materials (Section 1 (m)).
Such political gatherings are still allowed but a reference must be made on the classification of category levels of each city or municipality as determined by the IATF. If the category level in a certain city or municipality is Category Level 5, all kinds of gatherings including motorcades are prohibited. If the category level is 4, in person campaigning, meetings and motorcades are allowed but only in a 30 percent operational capacity, not more. When it comes to places classified under category level 3 or 2, the maximum operational capacity for such gatherings and motorcades will be 50 percent, but when the place is classified as under Category level 1, there will no longer be any limit on in person campaigning and all meetings including activities with use of motorcade shall be allowed with an operational capacity of not more than 70 percent.
A Comelec Campaign Committee (CCC) shall also be established in every region, province and city/municipality for purposes of implementing Comelec Resolution 10732 and to monitor compliance by all concerned stakeholders. Candidates must also secure permits from their proper CCCs at least 72 hours before the conduct of any campaign activity and submit affidavits of compliance within 72 hours after said activity for monitoring purposes. Barangay officials will also be required to submit reports concerning campaign activities.
There are some limitations during the conduct of in-person campaign:
1) There must be no entering into the dwelling of the voter, even if given permission;
2) There must be no crowding around the candidate;
3) Handshakes, hugs, kisses, arm-in-arm gestures are not allowed;
4) There must be no taking of selphies or photographs in close proximity with the candidates and companions;
5) There shall be no distribution of food, drinks and other items except leaflets, etc.. stating the platform and qualifications of the candidate; and
6) There shall be no stop overs during the conduct of motorcades and caravans
Adjusting to the new normal is the trend nowadays. Whatever methods the candidates may choose whether it be the traditional style as provided by Comelec Resolution 10732 or those that are allowed under Comelec Resolution 10730 where e-rallies and livestream campaigning can be done, the purpose of the law is always the same, that is, to give the candidates the fair chance to let the voters know about the former’s qualifications and platform for governance once elected into public office. As for the voters, let us watch, observe and find out who deserves our votes.
Please watch our Election Day segment, Fridays at 9:00 o’clock in the morning at Regional News Group Luzon’s Morning Balitaktakan.
***Comments or opinions mentioned in this article are made by me in my personal capacity as a lawyer and not as an employee of the Comelec.