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Organizers of poll rallies are encouraged to adhere to Comelec rules and ordinances.

On Tuesday, local police instructed political rally organizers for national candidates to follow the regulations and ordinances of the Commission on Elections (Comelec), particularly the gathering protocols.

Political parties and their local alliances can avoid being inconvenienced or flagged down, according to Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) information officer Lt. Col. Maria Theresa Macatangay, if they strictly follow guidelines amid the stricter alert level due to high cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) here.

Comelec rules and local policies, according to Macatangay, have been conveyed to the CCPO’s workforce.

“Anyway, the Comelec is the final source of recommendations and directions. So, if the Comelec determines this particular exercise is legal, we will comply (by it). We would respond accordingly if the Comelec says it isn’t,” she declared in a press conference, speaking in a mix of Cebuano and English.

However, Macatangay believes that the organizers of political sorties are aware of local issuances that establish restrictions on activities that may draw a large audience, claiming that the city administration is the one who would give licenses for the gathering.

Mayor Michael Rama asked political groups to get city permissions before engaging in any activities related to the May 9 elections on Monday.

“That’s the best-case scenario, and we’re hoping that they’ll follow Comelec standards.” Given that we are still in the midst of a pandemic, they should be aware of the necessary measures,” Rama stated.

Meanwhile, Macatangay said the CCPO is hesitant to request an augmentation force to supplement the existing personnel tasked with securing the 80 barangays here for the elections because authorities have not yet designated a village as an election hotspot or placed an area here on a watch list due to previous election violence.

She said that the local police headquarters had not kept an eye on the presence of private armed groups (PAG) in the capital city, which would necessitate a request for an augmentation force.

“In general, mao na ni sila mao na ni mao na ni mao na (they are it). However, the PNP (Philippine National Police) is not prohibited from relieving certain police officers under certain circumstances because, according to the guidelines, as long as the relief is in accordance with certain PNP guidelines, naa man na (there are) parameters, and (the Comelec) approved it later. When asked about the personnel redesign before the election, Macatangay responded, “So the relief would be in order.”

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