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Filing of COCs Begins; No Rallies Near Venue

Filing of COCs Begins; No Rallies Near Venue
Police inspect the Harbor Garden Tent of the Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila at the Cultural Center of Philippines complex in Pasay City on Sept. 29, 2021 ahead of the filing of the certificates of candidacy for next year’s elections from Oct 1 to 8. Photo by Edd Gumban, The Philippine STAR

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has assured the public that all is set for the filing of certificates of candidacy (COCs) for the May 2022 elections.

“We are ready and even in the provinces our offices are ready to accept the COCs of all candidates nationwide,” Comelec chairman Sheriff Abas said on Thursday, Sept. 30, noting that security measures and preparations are already in place.

Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said they expect a more “sober” atmosphere in the COC filing. “One of the main things of the filing of COCs this year is that we really went to great extent to make sure that the filing would be sober,” he said.

From the Comelec main office in Intramuros, the venue for the filing of COCs for national posts (president, vice president, senator and party-list) is now set at the Harbor Garden Tent of Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila in Pasay City, where 3,000 police were deployed to provide security during the COC filing from Oct. 1 to 8. Candidates must also test negative in their COVID-19 swab tests.

Meanwhile, the Comelec said they have yet to finalize rules and guidelines on house-to-house campaigning and political rallies. The official campaign period is set from Feb. 8 to May 7, 2022.

“To be honest madam chair, this is not really final yet. We are looking, we really have to coordinate with the IATF rules with regard to this one,” Comelec commissioner Marlon Casquejo told lawmakers during the hearing of the congressional oversight committee on automated election system chaired by Sen. Imee Marcos and Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr.

Comelec director Esmeralda Ladra said the commission’s Education and Information Division (EID) will provide platforms for e-rallies and livestreams of national candidates in the 2022 elections. Each presidential and vice presidential, senatorial and party-list candidate will be given airtime slots on the Comelec’s official social media channel.

Security measures

National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) director Maj. Gen. Vicente Danao Jr. announced the reclaimed area near the Manila Bay would be declared as a no-fishing and no-fly zone.

To prevent a possible super spreader event, protests and mass gatherings would also be prohibited in and around the venue, but police gave assurance they will exercise maximum tolerance.

Danao proposed that government suspend the permits to carry firearms outside residence during the COC filing period. He also said they have not detected any “serious” security threat during the COC filing.

Compliance

Abas said Comelec regional offices were ordered to comply with the guidelines, including using bigger venues for the filing of COCs in compliance with minimum health protocols.

“Hopefully, our filing will be orderly,” Abas said. After the filing of COCs, the Commission will thoroughly check and remove nuisance and disqualified candidates from the official list of candidates that will come out by mid-October.

To prevent the COC filing from turning into a super spreader event, the Department of Health (DOH) reminded the Comelec to strictly implement minimum public health standards.

“Whenever there are events that will surely lead to crowding and gathering of people, we emphasize the need for safety for the people headed to these high-risk scenarios,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said, as she stressed the need for adequate health screening protocols, social distancing and proper ventilation.

Declarations

On the first day of filing of certificates of candidacy today, Sen. Risa Hontiveros said she will file her COC for reelection, joined by Akbayan, middle force supporters and allies.

Hontiveros is also scheduled to launch her Healthy Buhay and Hanapbuhay campaign platform through the rollout of Healthy Pinas Mobile Clinics, the first of which will provide free medical services such as doctor’s consultation, X-ray, blood chemistry, ECG for residents of Baseco in Tondo, Manila.

Former actor turned politician Jinggoy Estrada also announced on Wednesday night, Sept. 29, his bid for a Senate comeback next year under the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP).

“My kababayan, comrades, I am Jinggoy, I wholeheartedly express my intention to participate in a clean election to become senator again,” Estrada said in a Zoom press conference aired on social media.

Estrada is expected to clash anew with his half-brother JV Ejercito who already announced his senatorial bid last week. Back in 2019, both failed to make it to the Magic 12, with JV securing 13th spot and Jinggoy placing 15th.

The former senator also expressed his support for the possible tandem of presidential daughter and Davao City Sara Duterte-Carpio and former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in the 2022 presidential elections.

Honest desire

For Sen. Panfilo Lacson, running for president should not be aimed to get back at any particular person.

“Rather, it must purely depend on our honest desire to uplift the lives of our countrymen who have suffered more than enough from incompetence and shameless corruption, mostly caused by the callous machinations of those in power whose conscience has given way to their greed,” Lacson said.

“We need a leader who will use the national budget as a tool for meaningful social services. This is the kind of leadership that we need. Filipinos deserve no less,” Lacson noted. – With Mayen Jaymalin, Cecille Surte Felipe