Comelec reminds bets to obey election rules

By Samuel Toledo and Connie Calipay


The Commission on Elections (Comelec) in Bicol reminded candidates to file first with their office a written application, whether onsite or online, before conducting face-to-face (F2F) or in-person campaign activities to avoid committing poll offenses.


Lawyer Rafael Olano, Comelec Bicol regional director, issued the reminder as the campaign period for those seeking national elective positions officially starts on Feb. 8.


In a radio interview, he said making phone calls or "texting" is not considered an official means of asking permission for in-person campaigning.


“In fact, our office has been receiving already several phone calls to ask permission for in-person campaigns. But we immediately tell them that they have to file their written application by personally appearing at our office or through online links,” Olano said.


Existing resolutions require Comelec to issue the permit to conduct in-person campaign within the 48-hour period from the submission of the application, he added.


Olano said the lead time is being used by the poll body to see to it that opposing candidates would not hold their campaigns at the same time or in the same venue.


He said this is also the reason they are requiring those who would seek in-person campaign permission to indicate the time, date, venue and number of participants including the campaign staff.


“We believe that at this point candidates are already aware of what is allowed and what is banned during the conduct of in-person campaigns because these are already published in national newspapers,” Olano said.


In its Resolution No. 10732, the Comelec said all candidates are no longer allowed to have a close encounter with their supporters and the public during conventions, caucuses, meetings and rallies as a protective measure against Covid-19.


“Handshakes, hugs, going arm-in-arm, or any action that involves physical contact among the candidate, their companions, and the public,” is not allowed, the poll body said.


Also prohibited are taking photos with the candidates as well as giving out food and drinks, among others.


Olano said several national candidates are anticipated to campaign in Bicol as the region has a big number of registered voters estimated at 3.9 million. (PNA)