Due to pandemic restrictions, the circus atmosphere and large crowds of supporters of the past will no longer be allowed in the Oct. 1-8, 2021 filing of Certificates of Candidacy (COCs), the Commission on Elections disclosed.
In separate orientations held last week for aspirants in the May 2022 national and local elections, COMELEC’s municipal election officer said that pursuant to Resolution No. 10717, the traditional crowd support will be prohibited inside the designated venue while the photo opportunity with the receiving officer will be limited to the candidate and only two companions.
In recent elections, some political parties conducted solidarity walks with their slate of candidates and their supporters to the election offices while the candidates themselves also brought members of their families for the photo op.
While the briefing document stated that media coverage during the actual filing of the COC will be prohibited, the COMELEC clarified that its local offices will designate an area for the media during coverage of the event, with the observance of minimum health protocols the only other thing required.
Pursuant to the health and safety rules stated in Res. No. 10717, all persons permitted to enter the designated venue shall be required to wear well-fitting surgical masks, N95 or KN95 masks as well as face shields, at all times while inside the premises.
Those wearing cloth marks and masks with valves shall not be allowed inside the venue unless there is another layer of surgical mask, N95 or KN95.
Physical distancing shall likewise be strictly observed, with a COVID-19 Marshal to request violators to leave the premises.
As part of the COVID-19 preventive measures during the filing of the COC and/or the Certificate of Nomination and Acceptance (CONA), in-person presence in the receiving offices or venue shall be limited to allow physical distancing of at least six (6) feet.
Aspirants for any elective office in local government or their authorized representatives shall be allowed to be escorted by a maximum of two (2) persons in the filing of COC/CONA, subject to the health measures, the COMELEC stated.
On the other hand, an independent candidate, political party or accredited citizens’ arm shall be allowed one (1) watcher each within the receiving office.
Prior to entry, all persons shall sanitize their hands and pass through the foot bath before being subjected to health screening, including temperature check, and fill up a Health Declaration Form.
Those with body temperature of 37.5 degrees Centigrade and above shall not be allowed to enter the venue yet and shall be serviced to take a rest for five minutes before another temperature screening shall be conducted.
If the temperature remains unchanged, such person shall not be allowed to enter the venue and shall be endorsed to the local health officer. Those showing any of the symptoms for COVID-19 shall also be barred from entry and subsequently endorsed to the health officer.
After the filing, all aspirants, their companions and authorized representatives shall immediately leave the premises, with anyone seen loitering within to be directed to leave at once.
The same resolution likewise directs election officers to install physical barriers or partitions for the processing, evaluation and receiving of all COCs/CONAs, conduct frequent disinfection and sanitation of facilities and equipment and frequently touched surfaces, and designate a waiting area with visible markings on the floor and chairs six feet apart.
In areas where a stricter quarantine category is imposed, aspirants or their authorized representative shall be considered an Authorized Person Outside Residence (APOR), provided the aspirant shall not be allowed to be escorted by any other person during the filing.
The COMELEC reminded aspirants that it will not accept an incomplete COC and those filed after the cutoff time on Oct. 8, 2021.
The briefing likewise instructed those present, who were mostly elected officials, to limit to 30 characters the name that they want to appear in the ballot, which is either the surname followed by the first name, or the nickname and the acronym of the political party/coalition or “IND” for independent.
On the other hand, the election officers said, the withdrawal of COC can be made only by the aspirant in person in the office where the COC is filed, through a Sworn Statement of Withdrawal, at any time before election day.
“An aspirant/official candidate of a duly registered political party or coalition who dies, withdraws or is disqualified for any cause after the last day for the filing of COCs may be substituted by an aspirant/official candidate belonging to, and nominated by, the same political party of coalition,” Sec. 40 of the Resolution stated.
Such substitute should file his COC for the office affected on or before Nov. 15, 2021 so that his or her name will be reflected on the official ballots, it added.
“No substitution due to withdrawal shall be allowed after November 15, 2021,” it stressed.
However, the substitute for a candidate who died or was disqualified by final judgment, may file a COC up to mid-day of Election Day, provided that the substitute and the substituted aspirant have the same surnames.
Substitution is not allowed for independent candidates, the same provision said.
Those holding a public appointive office or position, including active members of the AFP, and other officers and employees in government-owned-or-controlled corporations, shall be considered ipso facto resigned from the office and must vacate the same at the start of the regular office hours of the day when the aspirant filed the COC.
On the other hand, elective officials are not considered resigned upon the filing of a COC whether for the same position or any other elective office or position.
Meanwhile, with just a week left before the last day of registration for the May 2022 national and local elections, many would-be voters are now flocking to election offices in the 11 towns or through the mobile application in android phones.
For the Oct. 18, 2021 hearing of the Election Registration Board (ERB) in the capital town, a total of 2,031 applications for registration or transfer has been received by the COMELEC, compared to the 1,216 applications recorded for the July 19 & 21 ERB hearing.
According to Atty. Maria Theresa Dolores, election officer for Virac, 38 percent of the applications came from new voters while 26% were for transfers to other polling places.
The COMELEC also processed 24 applications under the Online Reactivation scheme, with 33 on the mobil app and 22 under i-Rehistro