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The DILG cautions poll bettors not to make physical contact during the campaign.

Before the commencement of the campaign period for the May elections, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) issued a warning to candidates about various forms of physical contact.

“Crowding, or allowing crowds to form around a candidate and his or her companions that violate MPHS (minimum public health standards), handshakes, hugs, kisses, going arm in arm, or any action that involves physical contact between the candidate, their companions, and the public, selfies, photographs, and other similar activities that require close proximity between the candidate, their companions, and the public, distribution of food and drink, and all other gimmicks,”

Ano further stated that these forms of physical contact are prohibited at caucuses, meetings, conventions, rallies, and miting de avance, citing Section 15 of Commission on Elections (Comelec) Resolution No. 10732.

Candidates and their support staff are forbidden from “visiting any private dwelling during house to house campaigning, even with the express permission of the homeowner,” according to Section 14 of the resolution.

National and municipal candidates will begin their campaigns on February 8 and March 25, respectively.

“Violators shall face penalties in accordance with the Omnibus Election Code. They could face a sentence of one to six years in prison and a lifetime ban from holding public office,” he warned.

Candidates may also face charges for violating local government unit (LGU) bylaws and violating Republic Act 11332, also known as the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act.

Local government units (LGUs) shall carefully enforce Comelec’s campaign guidelines in their respective regions of jurisdiction during the campaign time, and act on all complaints received, according to Ano.

Campaign activities are restricted by Comelec Resolution No. 10732 based on the current alert level status in effect in a given area.

Section 25 of the resolution, according to Ano, calls on barangay officials, tanods (village security officers), and members of the Barangay Health Emergency Response Team (BHERT) to “enforce strict adherence to minimum public health standards during the conduct of campaign activities.”

During election campaign events, the Philippine National Police (PNP) will be responsible for maintaining peace and order.

According to Ano, there is no limit on the number of people who can campaign in person under Section 12 of the resolution in areas with Alert Level 1, but a candidate or campaign leader can only be accompanied by a maximum of five campaign support workers in areas with Alert Level 2.

A candidate or campaign leader may be accompanied by a maximum of three campaign support personnel in areas with Alert Level 3, whereas in-person campaigning is prohibited in Level 4 and Level 5 areas.

For caucuses, meetings, conventions, rallies, and miting de avance, Ano revealed that in Level 1 regions, 70 percent of the venue’s operational capacity, whether indoor or outdoor, will be authorized, while 50 percent will be allowed in Alert Level 2 zones.

For enclosed outdoor venues in Alert Level 3 locations, 50 percent of the venue’s operational capacity is allowed, whereas, in Alert Level 4 areas, only 30 percent of the venue’s operational capacity is allowed.

In the meanwhile, these activities are prohibited in locations where the Alert Level is 5.

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