Candidates must get a permit from local government units (LGUs) to conduct onsite campaign activities next year, according to a new resolution of the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
Citing Comelec Resolution 10732, Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said the permit is part of the requirement before a candidate could be allowed by the concerned Comelec Campaign Committee (CCC) to conduct an in-person campaign or meetings.
“Comelec Campaign Committees will accept, approve, or disapprove applications for the conduct of election campaigns. meaning now there will be a permit process,” Jimenez said in a press conference last Thursday.
A CCC will be established at a national, regional, provincial, and municipal level. It will be composed of representatives from the Department of Health (DOH), Philippine National Police (PNP), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).
When asked if the said policy could give advantage to incumbent local officials against other candidates, Jimenez said applications for onsite campaigns could only be denied if a “permit to rally has already been granted to another candidate for the same place at the same time.”
“So that is the only ground. And that is appealable to the Comelec,” Jimenez said.
Aside from authorizing in-person campaigns, Jimenez said the CCC will have the power to determine the “category level” of a particular area.
The said category level, Jimenez said, will “mirror” the Alert Levels used by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF).
“We have graduated the scale of what is allowed and what is not ,” Jimenez said.
Under the said category level, no in-person campaign, caucasus, meetings, conventions, rallies and meeting de avance will be allowed in areas under Category Level 5.
In Category Level 4 areas, in-person campaigns will also be prohibited. However, caucasus, meetings, conventions, rallies and meeting de avance , will be allowed in the said locations, but only in “enclosed outdoor” venues with 30 percent operational capacity.
Candidates or campaign leaders accompanied with a maximum of three support staff will be allowed to hold in-person campaigns in areas under Category Level 3. They can also hold caucuses, meetings, conventions, rallies and meeting de avance in enclosed outdoor with 50 percent operational capacity.
They will be allowed to campaign with a maximum of five support staff and hold caucuses, meetings, conventions, rallies and meeting de avance in both indoor and enclosed outdoor venues with 50 percent operational capacity in Category Level 2 areas.
There is no limit to campaign staff they could bring in in-person campaigns in Category Level 1 areas. The operational capacity for caucuses, meetings, conventions, rallies and meeting de avance has also been raised to 70 percent in the said locations.
Enforcement and reporting
Jimenez said the CCCs will also be responsible for coordinating with barangay officials and local health officials to ensure minimum health standards will be enforced in an in-person campaign.
“They will also write the reports basically to recount how the campaigns went,” Jimenez said.
He said Comelec may assign additional tasks to the CCC.
Jimenez said the provision of Comelec Resolution 10732 will become enforceable during the Campaign period in Feb. 2022.
But he noted, they hope the said resolution, which was promulgated last Wed. can already be used as guidance for aspiring candidates and authorities.
“All of these things you are now seeing now will not be covered by this yet. But we hope this will be guidance for the law enforcement authorities right now,” Jimenez said.
The poll official noted once Resolution 10732 takes effect next year, any violation of its provision will be considered an election offense, which can be punishable with imprisonment, fine, and disqualification from holding public office.