COMMISSION on Elections (Comelec) spokesperson James Jimenez said the start of election period Sunday, January 10, has no bearing yet on candidates running for political office this coming May elections.

“As far as candidates are concerned, their threshold is their campaign period,” Jimenez told Sun.Star.

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Basically, the start of the election period only activates gun ban, the prohibition against starting public works and any appointment or re-appointment of officers and employees of the civil service.

Jimenez explained that candidates start to get busy only during the start of the campaign period which is 90 days before election day for national candidates and 45 days for local bets.

He also said that citizens may already start noticing checkpoints to be set up starting on Sunday. “At that point, you can start seeing checkpoints going up especially in areas when it is necessary.”

Roberto Rosales, chief of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO), said that at least 56 checkpoints would be set up in Metro Manila to strictly enforce the gun ban.

As election day nears, Filipinos will start seeing more of these checkpoints to help minimize election violence.

"As we get closer to election day, there will probably random checkpoints especially when we have reports of activities going like reports of unauthorized transport of firearms," said Jimenez.

During the command conference of Comelec, Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), 14 provinces were identified as election hotspots while 68 partisan groups are aimed to be disbanded before the May 2010 elections.

These hot spots are Abra, Ilocos Norte, Nueva Ecija and Masbate in Luzon; Western Samar, Eastern Samar, and Antique in Visayas; and Basilan, Sulu, Maguindanao, Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Sarangani, and Zamboanga Sibugay in Mindanao. (Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)