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It’s showtime, folks as campaign begins

The candidates for national posts will have 90 days to show what they’ve got. The campaign for local positions will not kick-off until 25 March



Photo: Alfonso Padilla

The charm offensives for the 9 May national elections is on starting tomorrow.

Ten candidates including a vice-president, two senators, a city mayor, and a former senator leading in the surveys are competing for the presidency. Nine are running in the vice- presidential race, while 64 are fighting for 12 seats in the Senate.

And oh, yes 178 partylist groups are likewise vying for seats at the House of Representatives.

The number of people running for the presidency is higher this year compared to the 2016 polls where only six bets fought it off.

The candidates for national posts will have 90 days to show what they’ve got. The campaign for local positions will not kick-off until 25 March.

A total of 18,100 national and local positions will be up for grabs in the upcoming polls expected to be a battle royale for the hearts and minds of the electorate at a time when the battleground has shifted to social media on account of the restrictions brought about by the pandemic.

Presidential bets’ itinerary

Vice President Leni Robredo will have her opening salvo for the opening of the Angat Buhay village in the municipality of Lupi, followed by a series of talks to be held in municipalities of Libmanan, Calabanga, Goa, and Iriga City. She will also attend a mass at the Minor Basilica of Our Lady of Peñafrancia in Naga City, to be followed by her grand rally to be held at Naga’s Magsaysay Avenue.

Senator Panfilo Lacson will have his proclamation rally in his hometown in Imus, Cavite along with his running mate, Senate President Vicente Sotto III. Senator Manny Pacquiao is expected to have his opening salvo in his hometown in General Santos City, while Manila Mayor Isko Moreno will have his proclamation rally to be held at the Kartilya ng Katipunan, beside the Manila City Hall together with his running mate, Dr. Willie Ong, and their three- member senatorial team.

Former Senator Bongbong Marcos, together with his running mate, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio will have their ticketed proclamation rally at the Philippine Arena, an indoor arena owned by the religious group, Iglesia ni Cristo in Bocaue, Bulacan. Labor leader Leody de Guzman, together with his party will have their proclamation rally at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani in Quezon City.

Prior to the start of the campaign period, Katipunan ng Kamalayang Kayumanggi had their prayer proclamation over the weekend in Baguio City, where former Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Puno led the virtual pray-over for the party’s standard bearer, Faisal Mangondato and his running mate, Carlos Serapio.

Other presidential candidates have yet to announce their schedules.

Campaign rules

In November, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) issued Comelec Resolution 10730 which spells out guidelines on the implementation of the Fair Election Act, covering campaign rules for the upcoming polls in 2022, as well as campaign rules on social media, mobile and online platforms.

Registered political parties and candidates are required to register the names of the website and web address of all verified official accounts, websites, blogs, and other social media pages to the Comelec Education and Information Department, thirty days from the last day of filing of the Certificate of Candidacy. All submitted domains to the poll body are only those who are allowed to use political ads online.

Candidates are also required to report the details of the agreement and political advertisements to paid digital influencers and online content creators. For the traditional campaigns, 120 minutes of TV campaign airtime are allotted to every candidate on national posts per station, and 180 minutes for radio advertisements. In local positions, every candidate has 60 minutes of TV ads per station and 90 minutes for radio ads.

For newspapers or broadsheets, only one-fourth of pages are allowed for national and local candidates while half-page is allowed for tabloids. It should still be stated who donated or paid for the political ads. Any candidate who wishes to use other methods of campaigning not covered by the IRR can file a petition to the commission.

The Comelec will monitor the social media spending of candidates, as well as provide free live streaming of e-rallies for national candidates, as part of the innovations to adapt to the Covid-19 pandemic, as the campaign period begins.

In-person campaigning

The poll body also instituted the new normal in-conduct of election campaign activities of political candidates by strictly observing minimum public health standards set by the Department of Health (DoH), where election campaign activities are being allowed depending on the alert level being raised on the area where they will conduct a rally.

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.

Motorcades and caravans will have to secure permits from local government units, which will have to be submitted to the poll body.

On Friday, the Comelec Campaigns Committee, led by Commissioner Rey Bulay had made its first coordination meeting with deputized agencies that will assist the poll body in implementing the guidelines on in-person campaign activities under the new normal.

Presidential debates

The Comelec has yet to organize back-to-back presidential and vice-presidential debates which will also kick off this month until April, where they are yet to announce the venues for Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez previously said that they will leave the podium empty if the aspirant refuses to participate in the process.

The debates will be held in a hybrid setup, where the candidates are the ones only allowed to participate physically while their supporters will be allowed to cheer virtually.