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Comelec rules on campaigning take effect February
THE Commission on Elections yesterday said its recently-approved guidelines for the conduct of in-person campaigns and rallies would only take effect when the campaign period starts in February.
Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez, however, said health protocols amid the COVID-19 pandemic are hardly being observed as aspirants in the 2022 elections start going to the provinces.
“Mukhang hindi naman nasusunod. For one thing, hindi pa applicable ang guidelines namin. Kakagat pa lang ‘yan pagdating ng Pebrero. Feb. 8 for national candidates, March 25 for local candidates. Pero sa nakikita natin ngayon, nilabas nga natin nang maaga para sana may guidelines ang mga kandidato pero wala, ‘di naman sinusunod, siksikan pa rin ang mga tao,” he said
Jimenez said the Department of the Interior and Local Government is tasked to monitor election-related activities outside the campaign period.
“Kaya natutuwa kami na nananawagan ang DILG patungkol sa mga rally na ‘yan na maging maingat ang mga kandidato. Kami dinadagdag namin ang panawagn ng DILG dahil sa totoo lang, ‘yan ang authority sa ngayon,” he said.
As early as November, the Comelec said violations of health and safety protocols amid the COVID-19 pandemic during campaign activities in the 2022 elections will be considered election offenses.
Even if the activities are organized by supporters, Jimenez said it is “possible” that candidates will be held liable for any violation of health protocols if proven that they are involved in the gathering.
“Kung ang kandidato ay pumayag, possible na umabot sa kanya ang kaso. Pero kailangan patunayan na meron siyang involvement doon. Ang violation ng aming rules ay isang election offense which means puwede silang makasuhan ng disqualification,” he said.