MANILA, Philippines – Candidates, political parties, and groups mounting a campaign activity in areas classified under alert levels 1 and 2 will no longer need to secure a campaign permit from the Commission on Elections, a poll official said on Wednesday, March 16.
Comelec Commissioner George Garcia told reporters on Viber that the change is part of recalibrated written “new normal” campaigning guidelines amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The seven-member Comelec en banc, which is the institution’s policy-making body, came up with the decision during a session earlier on Wednesday.
“It will be routed for our signature,” Garcia said, referring to the amendment to Comelec’s Resolution No. 10732, which was originally promulgated in November 2021, when the Philippines was still grappling with higher coronavirus caseloads.
The move came weeks after a regional trial court (RTC) in Baguio ordered the Comelec’s main and regional office to suspend the enforcement of Comelec Resolution No. 10732, at least until April 4.
It was the supporters of presidential aspirant Vice President Leni Robredo who ran to the RTC and asked it to intervene, given the poll body’s policy of requiring volunteers to apply for a Comelec permit before conducting any election campaign activity.
It is important to note that while the amendment means a permit from Comelec campaign committees is no longer necessary, parties and candidates holding political rallies during the campaign period are still covered by local ordinances on the issuance of permits, as stipulated in the Omnibus Election Code.
Less stringent cap on rally attendees
Candidates and parties will also now be allowed to fill their campaign venue with 100% of its operational capacity in areas under Alert Level 1, an increase from the 70% capacity originally stated in Comelec Resolution No. 10732.
For areas under Alert Level 2, the cap will also be raised from 50% to 70% of the venue’s capacity.
This cap on rally attendees, however, has not been followed by most national candidates since the campaign period started in February. – Rappler.com