Monday, November 29, 2021

Comelec: Handshakes, hugs, selfies during campaign not allowed

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THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) is prohibiting handshaking, hugging, and even taking selfies during in-person campaign activities and public rallies for the 2022 elections.

The Comelec en banc, in its Resolution 10732, said several traditional campaign acts of candidates will no longer be allowed due to the continued threat of coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

These campaign acts include entering any private dwelling during house-to-house campaigning, even with the permission of the homeowner, and crowding, which violates health protocols.

Also banned are handshakes, hugs, kisses, going arm-in-arm, or any action that involves physical contact among the candidates, their companions, and the public; and taking selfies, photographs, and other similar activities that require close proximity between the candidate and their companions, and the public.

The Comelec also prohibited the distribution of food and drink, and all other goods or items.

It said similar prohibitions are applicable during political conventions, caucuses, miting de avance, and rallies.

The Comelec resolution also stressed that restrictions on the number of attendees during public gatherings shall also be dependent on the category level imposed in the area.

The category level will be determined by the local Comelec campaign committees.

Under Category Level 1, the Comelec will allow up to 70 percent of the operational capacity of the venue, whether indoor or outdoor, while under Category Level 2, up to 50 percent of the operational capacity of the venue, whether indoor or outdoor, will be lowed.

Under Category Level 3, candidates are allowed to have up to 50 percent of the operational capacity of the venue for enclosed outdoor only, while Category Level 4 will allow up to 30 percent of the operational capacity of the venue for enclosed outdoor only.

As for Category Level 5, all election campaign activities will not be allowed.

The Comelec also said that during all campaign activities, minimum public health standards (MPHS) must be strictly observed, such as adequate air ventilation, physical distancing, and use of face masks.

"During all election campaign activities, candidates and participants shall, at all times, observe MPHS," said the Comelec.

Otherwise, violations of the said guidelines for in-person campaigning shall constitute an election offense, it added.

"It constitutes an election offense, which carries the penalty of one to six years imprisonment, disqualification to hold public office, and deprivation of right to vote," the poll body said. (HDT/SunStar Philippines)


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