DUMAGUETE CITY - The Commission on Elections (Comelec) in Negros Oriental will establish the campaign monitoring committees at the provincial and local levels prior to the start of the campaign period for candidates in the May 9 polls.
Lawyer Lionel Marco Castillano, provincial election supervisor-designate for Negros Oriental, in an interview with the Philippine News Agency on Monday, said the Provincial Comelec Campaign Committee and its counterparts in the towns and cities will be tasked to monitor the activities of candidates on the campaign trail and ensure that guidelines and restrictions are complied with.
"The coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic has caused some changes in previous practices allowed by the Comelec for the political candidates and their supporters while out campaigning for election," Castillano said in mixed English and Cebuano.
There are limitations and restrictions now on their movements, such as no handshaking, no taking of selfie photos, no house-to-house campaigning, the acquisition of permits from the Comelec Campaign Committees prior to rallies and similar activities, and more importantly, adherence to basic safety and health protocols, he said.
Comelec Resolution No. 10732, promulgated on Nov. 24, 2021, stipulates the guidelines for the conduct of in-person campaigns, rallies, caucuses, meetings, conventions, motorcades, caravans, and "miting de advance" under the "new normal" in connection with the elections.
"We are also guided by the National Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (NIATF-EID) in the implementation of guidelines, rules, and regulations in relation to the fight against Covid-19," Castillano said.
He said the role of the Provincial Comelec Campaign Committee will be to monitor the activities of candidates for elective positions at the provincial level while their counterparts in the towns and cities will do the same for those running for local positions.
"The candidates will have to secure a permit with us prior to undertaking campaign activities that are covered by the resolution," he said.
Castillano met with provincial police director, Col. Germano Mallari, on Monday to initially discuss election-related concerns, including the monitoring of the activities of political candidates.
"Dunay mga bago nga mga prohibitions nga wala sauna mao nga kinanglan na ug monitoring (there are new prohibitions that need monitoring) and they also need to submit a compliance report after every campaign," he said.
The start of the campaign period for candidates seeking national posts will be on February 8, and permits will have to be secured from the Regional Comelec Campaign Committee.
For the provincial and local candidates, the campaign period will begin on March 25.
The Provincial Comelec Campaign Committee will be headed by Castillano, with members to include representatives of the Philippine National Police, Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Provincial Health Officer, and the Department of the Interior and Local Government provincial office.
Castillano will be holding a virtual meeting with the Provincial Comelec Campaign Committee on February 4 prior to its official launching. (PNA)