MANILA - Aksyon Demokratiko presidential candidate Isko Moreno Domagoso on Friday said he would continue "hugging and shaking" his supporters' hands during campaigns despite the Commission on Elections' (Comelec) appeal for candidates to refrain from physically engaging with voters to avoid the possible transmission of COVID-19.
On the first week of the official campaign period, Domagoso went around Metro Manila and nearby provinces aboard a float, granting selfies and handshakes to screaming supporters crowding along streets.
"Gusto ko makamayan ang tao, gusto ko mayakap sila, gusto ko maramdaman nila ako. Gusto ko malapit ako sa kanila. It's always like that," Domagoso said.
(I want to shake people's hands, I want to hug them, I want them to feel my presence. I want to be close to them. It's always like that.)
"I hope whatever rules they are doing right now, tingnan naman nila yung ibang konsiderasyon na mas gusto ng tao na nakikita nila, nakakasalamuha nila yung kanilang kandidato,"
(I hope whatever rules they are doing right now, they'd see other considerations like how the public prefers to mingle with candidates.)
Under the Comelec's guidelines for the 2022 campaign, candidates are discouraged to shake hands, hug, kiss, or take selfies with their supporters.
The poll body also urged candidates to ensure that there would be proper physical distancing in sorties, a rule that has been frequently violated.
When asked if he feels that his style of campaigning is "insensitive" to health restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19, Domagoso said: "I am not a scientist to answer that."
"It has to be science-based," said the Manila nayor, who usually takes off his face mask when delivering speeches and granting interviews.
In 2020, the World Health Organization, the Philippines' Department of Health, and other scientific organizations said that COVID-19 is transmitted through droplets that may be passed through physical contact.
Under the national government's current policy, all individuals must wear face masks when outdoors, observe physical distancing, and frequently sanitize hands to curb the spread of the virus that has killed millions worldwide.
Other candidates have also complained about several health-related campaign protocols, saying these are hard to implement especially when voters are the ones who initiate physical contact.