Thu, 20 Jan 2022

MANILA - The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Monday reiterated its earlier reminder for all aspirants in the May 2022 polls to refrain from holding mass gatherings of supporters which may result in superspreader events for coronavirus.

Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez issued the statement in the wake of various political rallies conducted by candidates, particularly those running for national positions.

"The DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government) already issued a statement and we joined the DILG in their sentiment to ensure people are safe which is very important. Let us remember that the prohibitions despite the health crisis are not specific or exclusive to Comelec that is not specific and exclusive to the election. Those are common-sense requirements of the law that must now be enforced by the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases) and the police," he said in a press conference.

He said by doing so, candidates are endangering the lives of their supporters.

"So let's not think of politicians as exempted just because they say they are campaigning, they are not special. Don't endanger your supporters...just so you can get your crowds, just so you can get your photo ops. Please think twice about doing that," he added.

While saying these activities are not yet covered by rules on poll campaign, Jimenez said authorities must be the ones to implement health protocols.

"We always said that even drivers are fined when there is no mask or no face shield. How about the politicians who are deliberately endangering people through their negligence, through their omission. Do not endanger your supporters. Do not endanger the rest of the country," he said.

Both the DILG and the Department of Health have raised the alarm over big crowds in political rallies where health protocols such as physical distancing have been breached.

Under Alert Level 2 which is in effect in the whole country, gatherings are allowed up to 50 percent capacity of the venue, with an additional 10 percent if the facility has a safety seal certification.

Based on the calendar of activities released by the poll body, the start of the campaign period is on Feb. 8, 2022 for national candidates and on March 25, 2022 for local candidates.

Meanwhile, Jimenez cautioned candidates against individuals or groups who promise sure victory the polls in exchange for money.

"Over the weekend, we have gotten a lot of reports of people trying to run a con. Telling politicians that if they pay, they can win. We would like to remind everyone, the politicians especially, not to be misled into believing this is possible. This is not possible," Jimenez added.

He said the scammers are reportedly claiming as either having ties with the Comelec or with the service provider, adding that such false claims were done in the past. (PNA)

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