Campaign protocols

Campaign protocols

The constant tide of supporters of leading presidential candidate Bongbong Marcos is very hard to control but the easing of Comelec rules under Alert Level 1 helped a lot

There are only 47 days left before more than 60 million qualified voters go to their respective polling precincts to elect their chosen national and local officials for the next three to six years.

Timely, the Philippine National Police has reiterated its call for candidates to strictly comply with campaign protocols in conducting rallies, assemblies, and other related political activities.

This, as the Commission on Elections (Comelec) announced it will create a task force that will investigate and prosecute all reports and allegations of vote-buying during the 2022 elections.

Comelec Commissioner George Garcia the constitutional body of seven commissioners “will create a task force to address such reports (on vote-buying), complaints and whatever. The Comelec can motu proprio investigate. The Comelec can always direct its field personnel to immediately submit reports to us. But we’ll have a task force for quicker actions.”

The task force will have members coming also from the Philippine National Police, Armed Forces of the Philippines, and the Department of Justice.

In a statement Monday night, PNP chief Gen. Dionardo Carlos said candidates “should make sure that (there are) proper coordination with authorities concerned to assist them in the security and crowd control.”

Carlos made the remark ahead of the start of the campaign period for local candidates this coming Friday, the 25th.

He is on track in reminding organizers not to be complacent despite the easing of in-person campaign rules by the Comelec.

“Please avoid bringing huge sum(s) of money, jewelry, items of value, and small children,” Carlos said.

Last week, the poll body scrapped the rule on obtaining permits from its campaign committee for the holding of rallies in areas under Alert Levels 1 and 2.

Campaign activities have also been allowed at 100 percent capacity and 70 percent capacity for Alert Level 1 and 2 areas, respectively.

Previously, only 70 percent capacity was allowed for campaign activities in areas under Alert Level 1, while 50 percent capacity was permitted under Alert Level 2.

However, handshakes, kissing, and taking selfies remain prohibited under the relaxed campaign rules amid the coronavirus pandemic.

On Monday, the Department of Health reported 3,572 new coronavirus cases from March 14 to 20.

As this developed, the PNP chief said they have identified various hot spots, particularly in Mindanao which would be part of their areas of concern for the May 9 elections.

The official campaign period began on February 8 for national position candidates and will begin this Friday, March 25, for local position aspirants.

Garcia added: “We always remind everyone about the Pinera doctrine. Technically, the local campaign period has not yet started. What is ongoing now is for the national positions. So let us always remember that.”

Vote-buying is a violation of the Omnibus Election Code. It is punishable by imprisonment, disqualification from public office, and the loss of the right to vote.

Garcia said: “I hope that aside from our directive to local offices of Comelec to submit reports involving vote-buying, there will also be people who will file complaints.”

Garcia underscored the importance of filing formal complaints of vote-buying before the poll body.

Last week, Garcia said those who sell their votes might be penalized.

On a related development, an election watchdog has said the supposed data leak into tech firm Smartmatic is largely unrelated to the May 9 polls but still needs to be further investigated.

The Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting said the majority of information leaked were reportedly those used in past elections.

“Based on the information we’ve seen in the public so far, none of the pieces of information would affect the current elections directly, at least the running of the current elections,” Dr. William Yu, trustee

and IT lead of PPCRV, told ANC’s “Rundown.”

Like the poll watchdog, we strongly encourage the Comelec and law enforcement authorities to dig deeper into this because “clearly there was a leak that happened.”

We have to elevate the level of our confidence in the May 9 elections. (ai/mtvn)

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