Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner George Garcia on Thursday said the poll body has relaxed some of the guidelines on election campaigning activities.

Garcia said the Comelec en banc on Wednesday approved the recalibration of the rules in-person campaigning.

“Our law department will issue necessary resolution, but in advance, we say although there is no Comelec Campaign Committee (permit) at Level 1 and Level 2, but you will still get municipal or city permits because it is required under Section 87 of the Omnibus Election Code,” he said in a press briefing.

In the previous Comelec’s in-person guidelines, no election campaign activity shall be allowed without first obtaining permission from the corresponding Comelec Campaign Committee (CCC).

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Garcia said since the Covid-19 protocols have been relaxed, some adjustments should also be made.

“We will allow 100 percent capacity for Level 1 and Level 2, 70 percent. This is the Commission’s response because the original guidelines were drafted at that time when the pandemic situation in the country was at Level 3, but since now it is Level 1 and maybe even lowered to Level 0. There should also be some adjustments…” he said.

Previously, only 70 percent capacity was allowed in areas under Alert Level 1, while 50 percent capacity was permitted under Alert Level 2.

Garcia, however, said under the upcoming Comelec resolution, handshaking as well as kissing and taking of selfies are still prohibited during the campaign sorties.

“The Comelec will have to be there to ensure that health protocols are observed, and the health of the people is the number priority in terms of the pandemic,” he added.

Defective ballots

Meanwhile, Garcia said 105,350 ballots have been declared defective.

“Now of the 5,288,268 when verification was made, we found out that there are 3,344,333 that are good ballots and 1,943,935 are still undergoing verification,” he said.

The rejected ballots, he said, have a smudge, not perfectly cut, among others.

On Wednesday, the poll body reported that a total of 49,737,783 ballots have been printed so far. Some 67,442,616 ballots will be needed for the May 9 national and local elections.(PNA)

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