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As campaign season kicks off on Feb. 8, here's everything you need to know about the Comelec guidelines for in-person campaigning

By Jay-Ann Claudine Gutierrez Published Feb 07, 2022 1:31 pm Updated Feb 07, 2022 9:11 pm

The campaign period for candidates vying for national positions kicks off on Feb. 8, and the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has since imposed restrictions on physical campaign activities in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

This campaign season will be complicated due to the challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, which will put a cap on the raucous and festive sorites that have been a fixture in the run-up to our elections.

Here is everything you need to know about the campaign guidelines that Comelec issued on Nov. 24, 2021.

Campaign period

Through Resolution No. 10732, the poll body said presidential, vice-presidential, senatorial, and party-list candidates may hold campaigns from Feb. 8 to May 7.

Those gunning for seats at the House of Representatives, provincial, city, and municipal levels, meanwhile, may campaign from March 25 to May 7.

But nobody is allowed to campaign during Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, as well as on May 8, the day before the election day, or on May 9 itself.

General campaign rules

Comelec said only persons who fall within the following descriptions are allowed to “join, participate, or take part in any political caucuses, conferences, meetings, rallies, motorcades, or other similar assemblies for the purpose of soliciting votes and/or undertaking any campaign or propaganda for or against a candidate":

    • Aged 18 to 65
    • Don't have comorbidities and other health risks
    • Not heavily pregnant

Mind, however, that there are candidates who are past 65.

Comelec also reminded everybody to observe minimum health standards, such as wearing of face-fitting masks and full-coverage face shields and observance of physical distancing.

It has not amended the face shield rule even though President Rodrigo Duterte has since lifted its mandatory use in areas under Alert Level 1 to 3 since Nov. 15, more than a week since the poll body issued its resolution.

To date, Alert Level 3 is the maximum alert level that's in effect in several parts of the country.

    Category level-based campaign activities

    Comelec designated five category levels in line with the country's alert level system. The higher the alert level, the more restrictions that category levels will have.

    For instance, a candidate who would be campaigning in areas under Alert Level 2 will observe Comelec rules set for Category 2.

    Here are the activities that Comelec permits per category level:

    In-person campaign

    • Category Level 1 - no limit
    • Category Level 2 - maximum of five campaign support staff to accompany candidate or campaign leader
    • Category Level 3 - maximum of three campaign support staff to accompany candidate or campaign leader
    • Category Level 4 - not allowed
    • Category Level 5 - not allowed

    Caucuses, meetings, convention, rallies, and miting de avance

    • Category Level 1 - 70% venue capacity, whether indoors or outdoors
    • Category Level 2 - 50% venue capacity, whether indoors or outdoors
    • Category Level 3 - 50% venue capacity, whether indoors or outdoors
    • Category Level 4 - 30% venue capacity, whether indoors or outdoors
    • Category Level 5 - not allowed

    Motorcades, Caravans

    Trucks, buses, mini-trucks, jeepneys

    • Category Level 1 - 70% venue capacity
    • Category Level 2 - 50% venue capacity
    • Category Level 3 - 50% venue capacity
    • Category Level 4 - 30% venue capacity
    • Category Level 5 - not allowed

    Service-utility vehicles, sedans, owner-type jeepneys

    • Category Level 1 - full capacity
    • Category Level 2 - full capacity
    • Category Level 3 - up to two passengers per row, one passenger on the driver's row
    • Category Level 4 - up to two passengers per row, one passenger on the driver's row
    • Category Level 5 - not allowed

    Tricycles

    • Category Level 1 - full capacity
    • Category Level 2 - full capacity
    • Category Level 3 - one passenger in the side car, one backride passenger
    • Category Level 4 - one passenger in the side car, no backride passenger
    • Category Level 5 - not allowed

    Motorcycles

    • Category Level 1 - one backride passenger
    • Category Level 2 - one backride passenger
    • Category Level 3 - no backride passenger
    • Category Level 4 - no backride passenger
    • Category Level 5 - not allowed

    Overall campaign restrictions

    Comelec prohibited the following activities regardless of category level:

      • Entering any private dwelling during house-to-house campaigning, even with homeowner's permission
      • Crowding around the candidate and their companions
      • Handshakes, hugs, kisses, or other kinds of physical contact
      • Taking selfies, photographs, and other activities that require close proximity
      • Distribution of food, drinks, and other items

    Aside from the rules above, motorcades and caravans are also not allowed to do the following:

      • Candidates, campaign leaders, and supporters not belonging to the same household riding together inside a vehicle
      • Stopovers, layovers, and other similar stoppages for the conduct of other election campaign activities

    Campaign activities approval

    Comelec reminded candidates that they must secure approval for their campaign activities from its campaign committees 72 hours prior to the intended schedule.

    National candidates may seek clearance before the regional campaign committee at the office of the regional election director.

    Those running for governor, vice governor, and provincial board members may seek approval before the Comelec's Office of the Provincial Election Supervisor.

    Candidates for mayor, vice mayor, and councilors, meanwhile, may go to the municipal or city campaign committee at the concerned Office of the Election Supervisor.

    Committees will be headed by the area's respective election directors, as well as members of the Department of Health, Philippine National Police, Armed Forces of the Philippines, and Department of the Interior and Local Government.

    Election offense penalties

    Any violation of Comelec's campaign guidelines is considered an election offense, and the following may be imposed on violators:

      • Imprisonment of one to six years
      • Disqualification to hold public office
      • Deprivation of the right of suffrage
      • For political parties, fines amounting to not less than P10,000
      • For foreign individuals, deportation after serving the specified term of imprisonment

    The rules will apply to all local candidates when their own campaign period begins on March 25.

    Comelec also pointed out that those who would break public health protocols may face sanctions listed under Republic Act No. 11332, or Law on Reporting of Communicable Diseases:

    • A fine of not less than P20,000 but not more than P50,000
    • Imprisonment of not less than month but not more than six months
    • Suspension or revocation of Professional Regulation Commission license or Civil Service Commission eligibility