The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has ruled that in-person campaigning will not be restricted in areas under Covid Alert Level 1, while a candidate or campaign leader may be accompanied by a maximum of five staff in areas under Alert Levels 2 and 3.
Conducting in-person campaigning in areas under Alert Levels 4 and 5 will be strictly prohibited, the poll body said as it released the guidelines for campaigns, rallies, caucuses, meetings and conventions under the so-called “new normal.”
The do’s and don’ts were contained in the 21-page Resolution 10732 promulgated by the Comelec on 24 November but released to media Thursday. In-person campaigning will have to strictly follow health protocols set by the Department of Health, the poll body said.
Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said all candidates will have to seek permission from the commission before they can conduct in-person campaigning. During in-person campaigns, entering private dwellings even with the approval of the owners is not allowed, Jimenez said.
Candidates and their campaign managers are also barred from forming crowds that violate the health standards and are prohibited from engaging in handshakes, hugging, kissing, going arm-in-arm, or any action that involves physical contacts or getting in close proximity with other people.
Among the activities that may also be prohibited if they violate health standards are the taking of selfies, photographs, and the distribution of food and drinks and similar items.
Caucuses, meetings, conventions, rallies and miting de avance are allowed up to 70 percent of the operational capacity of the venue, whether indoor or outdoor in areas under Alert Level 1; 50 percent in areas under Alert Levels 2 and 3; and 30 percent in areas under Alert Level 4. In areas under Alert Level 5, conducting the said activities is prohibited.
Motorcades and caravans will have to secure permits from local government units, which will have to be submitted to the poll body.
During motorcades and caravans, trucks, buses, mini-trucks, and jeepneys are allowed up to 70 percent of the capacity of the vehicles under Alert Level 1; 50 percent capacity in areas under Alert Levels 2 and 3; 30 percent capacity in areas under Alert Level 4.
Service-utility vehicles (SUV), sedans and owner-type jeepneys are allowed to have full capacity in areas under Alert Levels 1 and 2; and up to two passengers per row and one passenger on the driver’s row are allowed in areas under Alert Levels 3 and 4.
Meanwhile, Jimenez said the Comelec is set to conduct mock elections before the end of the year. “The mock elections will be a public test. We will use actual voters to see how they will behave in the field,” he added.
Jimenez said that they will also conduct a field test prior to the mock polls.
“There’s a field test to determine the precincts and [whether] the canvassed results can be electronically transmitted to wherever they’re supposed to go. That one is an internal test,” he said.
“The mock election is for public coverage as we will have actual voters actually lining up to vote,” Jimenez added.
Last month, the poll body conducted a voting simulation at the San Juan Elementary School for the upcoming polls, where it only had an 11 percent voter turnout.