The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Monday reminded candidates of the restrictions that will be implemented for in-person campaigning, among other rules as the 90-day campaign period for national candidates begins on Tuesday.

In a Laging Handa briefing, Comelec’ Education and Information Department (EID) Director Elaiza David said the campaign guidelines for this year is different from the usual campaign rules pre-coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic as every activity has to have the approval of the newly created National Comelec Campaign Committee, whose main function is to regulate election campaign under the new normal.

The committee is headed by Commissioner Rey Bulay while David is the chief of its secretariat. It is composed of the Department of Health, the Department of the Interior and Local Government, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and the Philippine National Police.

No physical contact
According to David, candidates are no longer allowed to enter houses, kissing and hugging the public. Even handshakes and taking selfies are also being discouraged.

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Also, the giving of food, water, or anything of value is prohibited.

“The candidate can no longer do whatever pleases, like an in-person campaign. The house to house of the candidates that used to happen regularly, now there are restrictions such as that the candidate can no longer enter the houses even with the permission of the owner. It’s also forbidden to kiss, hug, handshakes, anything that involves physical contract because we have to maintain or observe the so-called minimum public health standards,” she added.

Crowding or gathering of a large group of people is also prohibited.

“So crowding is also forbidden especially maybe if the candidate is popular. Taking of selfies are also not allowed and it is always forbidden to give food or drink or anything of value now in the campaign,” she said.

Permit to rally
David added that another new regulation to be implemented is for organizers of in-person campaigns, holding of rallies, caravans among other campaign activities to secure permits from the Committee by applying in the regional or provincial election offices where their events will be held.

“For those who will conduct in-person campaign or hold advance meetings or rallies, caucuses, caravan, or motorcade, they need to file an application with the respective Comelec Campaign Committee, so for national candidates, their application should be filed with the regional offices of the Comelec. For local to provincial level to be submitted at the provincial offices of the Comelec. For municipalities, also in the offices of the city or municipal election officers,” David added.

E-rallies
The Comelec official said the live-streaming of the rallies of national candidates will also start on Tuesday.

She added that they had a meeting on Monday where they briefed the candidates and their representatives on how to go about live streaming.

Every day starting February 8, there will be three sets of candidates per night where they will be given chance to livestream their campaign rallies on the poll body’s e-channel via https://www.facebook.com/COMELECeRallyChannel.

For the first night, Group 1 will be composed of presidential bets former National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales, Senator Manny Pacquiao, and Faisal Mangondato.

Meanwhile, Group 2 will be composed of Jose Montemayor, former presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella, and labor leader Leody de Guzman, will start on February 9.

For the third group composed of Vice President Leni Robredo, former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., Senator Ping Lacson, and Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, their e-rallies are set to start airing on February 10.

Each candidate will have 10 minutes during the e-rallies.

For vice-presidential bets, the airing of e-rallies for Group 1 composed of Manny Lopez, Dr. Willie Ong, and Rizalito David will start on February 8.

The airing of the first e-rallies of Carlos Serapio, presidential daughter Sara Duterte-Carpio, and Representative Lito Atienza of Group 2 is set on February 9.

The e-rallies of the third group of the vice presidential bets composed of former congressman Walden Bello, Senator Kiko Pangilinan, and Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III will begin on February 10.

The vice-presidential candidates will also each have 10-minute e-rally time slots.

For senatorial candidates and party-list organizations, each night five senatorial bets and five party-lists each being given three-minute e-rally programs.

For more information regarding the schedules, the public may visit the social media pages of the poll body.

Number of national positions, candidates
There are 10 candidates running for president while nine bets are vying for the vice-presidential seat.

There are 64 senatorial aspirants who will be vying for 12 senatorial seats while there are 178 party-list candidates.

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