The Commission on Elections (Comelec) will devise a plan to monitor campaign activities that violate health protocols amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez, in a television interview Tuesday, said the monitoring systems would be at the local level.
“As far as our campaign rules are concerned, we will have a monitoring system at the city and municipality level, we will be able to guard that,” he said.
But Jimenez admitted their authority in implementing rules and regulations on campaigning would only begin in February when the campaign period starts.
At the same time, the Commission on Human Rights called on citizens and concerned groups to stay vigilant and defend the basic rights and freedom as the election period approaches.
“As an integral part of State duty, we appeal to the government to ensure a safe, free, ++and genuine elections. We also ask all citizens and concerned groups to be vigilant in defense of basic rights and freedoms during this period. #StopTheKillings,” spokesperson Jacqueline Ann de Guia said.
She reacted to the killing of municipal election officer James Diaz Maghanoy, 42, in Lope de Vega, Northern Samar on Nov. 18.
Maghanoy was on his way home from the Commission on Elections office in Lope de Vega town when an unidentified assailant shot him.
“Election violence denigrates human rights, particularly the right to life, and creates an atmosphere of fear that impacts the conduct of free and genuine elections — a democratic exercise of the people’s right to vote,” De Guia said.
She said CHR in Region 8 had undertaken an immediate independent probe to ensure that accountability would be exacted.
“The urgent need to curb impunity cannot be overemphasized, especially during this volatile election period,” she said.
“As in all similar cases of killings and violence, we continue to harp the expedient need to bring perpetrators to account and to implement concrete mechanisms that will genuinely reduce violence on the ground,” she added.
CHR joined the call of Comelec for authorities to swiftly deliver justice.
According to the police report, Maghanoy, a municipal election officer from Lope de Vega, Samar, was on his way home when an unidentified assailant shot him while he was traversing the national highway in Barangay Samoge, Catarman at about 5 p.m. on Thursday.
Jimenez added authorities should implement the guidelines set by the government to prevent the people from gathering in rallies to support aspirants in next year’s polls.
“The only thing that makes me wonder is why now…why everyone is being given a free pass. Don’t we have other authorities who guard these events? It’s still in February, the Comelec authority will enter when it comes to that discussion. So, we should just now be urging the existing authorities because they are the ones in power right now,” he added.
Under the current Alert Level 2 which is in effect in Metro Manila and other areas with low COVID-19 cases, gatherings in residences with individuals not belonging to the same household are allowed.
Venues for meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions and permitted venues for social events are allowed at a maximum of 50 percent indoor venue capacity for fully vaccinated individuals and those below 18 years of age, even if unvaccinated, and 70 percent outdoor venue capacity provided that workers of the said establishments are fully vaccinated against COVID-19:
Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police said it was closely coordinating with Comelec over its latest pronouncement to consider health protocol violation as an election offense.
“We are working with the Comelec on the participation of the PNP in the implementation of the said provision for in-person electionactivities,” PNP chief, Gen. Dionardo Carlos said in a statement. Section 34 of Comelec Resolution 10730 states the candidates must submit an Affidavit of Compliance for every physical campaign activity that they will conduct.
The guidelines read, “Within 24 hours after the conclusion of any in-person campaign activity, the campaign organizing staff shall submit a notarized Affidavit of Compliance with Health Protocols to the Comelec with territorial jurisdiction over the place where the in-person campaign activity was conducted.”
Failure to do so is punishable under the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act.