No physical contact during campaign, DILG warns poll bets

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) warned candidates against various forms of physical contact ahead of the start of the campaign period for the May elections.

“Crowding, or allowing there to be, crowds that violate MPHS (minimum public health standards) around a candidate and his or her companions, handshakes, hugs, kisses, going arm in arm or any action that involves physical contact among the candidate, their companions, and the public, taking selfies, photographs and other similar activities that require close proximity between the candidate and their companions and the public, distribution of food and drink and all other goods or items (especially cash) are not permitted,” Interior Secretary Eduardo Año told President Rodrigo Duterte during the Talk to the People address on Monday night.

Citing Section 15 of Commission on Elections (Comelec) Resolution No. 10732, Año also said these forms of physical contact are also prohibited during caucuses, meetings, conventions, rallies, and miting de avance.

He added that under Section 14 of the resolution, candidates and their support staff are prohibited from “entering any private dwelling during house to house campaigning, even with the express permission of the homeowner.’’

The campaign period for national and local candidates will start on February 8 and March 25, respectively.

“Violators will be meted with penalties provided under the Omnibus Election Code. They can be slapped with one to six years imprisonment and perpetual disqualification from holding public office,” he added.

Aside from this, candidates may also face charges for violation of ordinances of local government units (LGUs) and violation of Republic Act 11332 or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act.

During the campaign period, Año also said local government units (LGUs) should strictly implement Comelec’s campaign guidelines in their respective areas of jurisdiction and act on all the complaints they will receive.

Under Comelec Resolution No. 10732 resolution, campaign activities are regulated based on the existing alert level status being implemented in a certain area.

Año said Section 25 of the resolution implores the barangay officials, tanods (village security officers), and members of Barangay Health Emergency Response Team (BHERT) “to impose strict observance with minimum public health standards during the conduct of campaign activities.’’

The Philippine National Police (PNP) will also be tasked to maintain peace and order during the conduct of election campaign activities.

For in-person campaigning under Section 12 of the resolution, Año said there is no limit in the number of persons in areas under Alert Level 1 while a candidate or campaign leader may be accompanied by a maximum of five campaign support staff in Alert Level 2 places.

In localities under Alert Level 3, a candidate or campaign leader may be accompanied by a maximum of three campaign support staff while in-person campaigning is prohibited in Level 4 and Level 5 areas.

For caucuses, meetings, conventions, rallies, and miting de avance, Año disclosed 70 percent of the operational capacity of the venue, whether indoor or outdoor will be allowed in Level 1 areas while 50 percent is permitted in places under Alert Level 2.

In Alert Level 3 areas, 50 percent of the operational capacity of the venue is allowed for enclosed outdoor venues while a 30 percent operational capacity of the venue for enclosed outdoor is permitted in Alert Level 4 localities.

Meanwhile, these activities are not allowed in areas under Alert Level 5.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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