MANILA, Philippines – The implementation of the Commission on Elections’ (Comelec) rules on physical campaigning will continue for most parts of the country despite a halt order issued by a court in Baguio, the country’s elections chief said.
An order issued by Baguio Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 5 on Wednesday, March 2, had raised questions over whether its instruction to suspend the enforcement of Comelec Resolution No. 10732 until April 4 only applies to Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) or the whole country.
Speaking to reporters on Friday, March 4, acting Comelec Chairperson Socorro Inting appeared unaware of the March 2 order, but asserted that the RTC cannot compel the Comelec’s main office to comply with its directive.
“The jurisdiction of the Baguio RTC is only within Baguio,” Inting said. “They have not acquired jurisdiction over us.”
The RTC had said that the Comelec, represented by Atty. Romeo Aguilar, supposedly 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.
The Baguio RTC issued the TRO on the matter against the Comelec’s main office and its regional office in CAR on February 28.
A hearing on the petitioners’ call to extend the 72-hour TRO was supposed to be conducted on Tuesday, but was moved to April 4 upon Aguilar’s request.
The camp of the petitioners had said they believe the effect of the status quo order is nationwide.
Inting, however, answered in the affirmative when asked whether the Comelec will continue the implementation of Resolution No. 10732 in other parts of the Philippines, except for Cordillera.
Promulgated in November 2021, Comelec Resolution No. 10732 details an unprecedented set of “new normal” rules for in-person campaign activities, depending on where someone lives in the Philippines.
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
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