AMID the threat of the Omicron coronavirus variant, Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año on Thursday, December 2, 2021, reminded political parties, organizations and their supporters that political rallies are still prohibited.

In a statement, Año said politically related special gatherings may only be allowed with the permission of respective local government units provided that minimum health protocols are being followed to prevent it from turning into a superspreader event.

"Bawal pa po ang mga political rally. Hindi pa po campaign period. (Political rallies are still prohibited. It's not campaign period yet.) We have been seeing candidates, both national and local, staging political rallies here and there, which gather hundreds if not thousands of people. Hindi pa po tapos ang pandemya. Parating pa ang Omicron variant (The pandemic is not over. The Omicron variant is still a threat),” he said.

“We cannot put our guard down. The Omicron variant has already reached many countries and it’s only a matter of time before it reaches us,” he added.

Año said only caravans and motorcades are allowed even without the permission of the LGU because there is physical distancing and these are usually held for a limited time only. They are also held in open areas where the possibility of virus transmission is low as compared to those being held indoors.

“Nakamonitor ang mga kapulisan sa mga caravan or motorcade at sinisiguro nila na may physical distancing, hindi katulad sa mga political rally na mahirap ikontrol ang mga tao,” he said.

(The police are monitoring caravans and motorcades, and they make sure that physical distancing is observed. Unlike political ralliers where it's hard to control people.)

“There is a time for everything and now is not the time to gather a huge number of people. Let’s wait for the campaign period. We are fortunate na bumababa ang kaso sa ating bansa (We are fortunate that cases in the country are declining), but this is not the time to push our luck. Covid-19 is still here and we can’t be complacent,” he said.

The official campaign period according to the Commission on Elections begins on February 8, 2022 for national posts and March 25, 2022 for local elective positions, including the positions of members of the House of Representatives.