Comelec

Baguio court extends halt order on Comelec’s physical campaigning guidelines

Dwight de Leon, Sherwin de Vera
Baguio court extends halt order on Comelec’s physical campaigning guidelines

Nico Villarete/Rappler

The local Comelec office will not require volunteers to secure a permit for their campaign activities until at least a hearing on the matter is conducted on April 4

MANILA, Philippines – The implementation of a poll body resolution that lays out the physical campaigning guidelines for the 2022 elections will remain suspended until at least April 4, a court in Baguio said.

The Baguio Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 5, in an order dated Wednesday, March 2, said the Commission on Elections (Comelec) agreed to “observe the status quo” while the court has yet to conduct a hearing on the petitioners’ bid to extend the 72-hour temporary restraining order (TRO) against Comelec Resolution No. 10732.

It was the supporters of presidential aspirant Vice President Leni Robredo who ran to the RTC and asked it to intervene on the poll body’s policy of requiring volunteers to apply for a Comelec permit before conducting any election campaign activity.

Baguio court extends halt order on Comelec’s physical campaigning guidelines

The Baguio RTC issued the TRO on the matter against the Comelec’s main office and its regional office in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) on February 28.

A hearing on the petitioners’ call to extend the 72-hour TRO was supposed to be conducted on Tuesday, but the Comelec’s representative, Romeo Aguilar, asked the hearing to be moved because “their office just received a memorandum from the Comelec main office directing them to furnish a copy of the petition and the order to the Office of the Solicitor General.”

“As prayed for by Atty. Aguilar, the hearing on the application for a TRO is reset to April 4, 2022 at 3:30 pm,” the order read.

Reporters have asked the Comelec’s main office to clarify whether it agreed to “observe the status quo” only in Cordillera, or nationwide. We have yet to receive a reply.

But Maarin Makalintal-Cabato, one of the petitioners’ counsels, believes the effect of the status quo order is nationwide.

“It protects everyone in the Philippines because Comelec Main was enjoined from enforcing the resolution requiring volunteers to get a permit for election campaign activities organized purely by volunteers,” he said.

Promulgated in November 2021, Comelec Resolution No. 10732 details an unprecedented set of restrictions for in-person campaign activities, depending on where someone lives in the Philippines.

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The issuance of the resolution came as the Philippines continued to grapple with the threat of COVID-19.

Under that resolution, candidates must first secure a permit from the Comelec campaign committee of their locality at least 72 hours prior to the conduct of any campaign activity. – Rappler.com

Dwight de Leon

Dwight de Leon is a multimedia reporter who covers local government units and the Commission on Elections for Rappler.