MANILA — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) intends to hold the filing of certificates of candidacies (COC) for those seeking national posts in next year's elections at a hotel tent in Pasay, instead of its national headquarters in Intramuros, Manila.
Comelec executive director Bartolome Sinocruz, Jr. divulged this on Wednesday during a joint congressional oversight committee on the automated election system hearing.
“The filing of the certificates of candidacy for national positions will be at Sofitel, at one of its tents,” he told committee co-chair Sen. Imee Marcos, who promptly noted that the venue is an enclosed space.
“The doors will be open, there will be ventilation. That’s really a big space to be divided into the venue for filing for president, vice president, and senators and party-list (organizations),” Sinocruz explained.
The change of venue is to ensure the safety of Comelec staff and those who seek elective posts, after concerns were raised that the filing of COCs in Intramuros almost usually turns into a “fiesta.”
But what about filing of COCs in local elections?
Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga, Jr. raised the issue of enclosed space in most local Comelec offices, which are usually housed in city halls or provincial capitols, while Marcos asked about the possibility of using open-air venues like vaccination centers.
Sinocruz said the decision will be left to local Comelec officials.
“Under our rules on the filing of certificates of candidacy, the election officers and provincial election supervisors were given authority to transfer ‘yung kanilang filing venue just to comply with the COVID protocols,” he said.
Barzaga cited as example candidates for councilors who would often rush on the last day of filing.
He asked if it is possible to issue a uniform guideline for all localities.
“Magdedepende po yan, katulad ng sabi kanina, sa size ng opisina. Meron tayong opisina, election office na malaki, sufficient naman. But ang decision lahat would be sa EO at sa provincial election supervisor, if they think na kailangan nila ng mas malaking venue,” Sinocruz said.
The filing of the certificates of candidacies is set on Oct. 1-8.
The campaign period, meanwhile, is scheduled on Feb. 8, 2022 until May 7, 2022.
Election day will be on May 9, 2022.
The Comelec is still in the process of ironing out the rules for campaigning under the “new normal.”
Earlier in the hearing, Barzaga and Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice brought up issues regarding proposed Comelec rules.
The proposed 10% limit on the number of attendees in every campaign sortie is impossible, Erice said, with only a 45-day campaign period.
And wouldn’t opponents of incumbents be disadvantaged if Comelec requires them to comply with local ordinances, he asked.
“It will be unfair to candidates who are not incumbents. Parang sinasabi niyo na yung incumbents will be making the rules, at the same time they will be the players,” Erice said.
Barzaga was a little more impatient with the absence of clear guidelines.
“Paano kami maghahanda sa pangangampanya? Kailan namin malalaman lahat to?,” he said, asking in particular about a proposed livestreaming platform to be provided by Comelec where free airtime will be provided to candidates during the campaign period.
Comelec Commissioner Marlon Casquejo acknowledged the draft “new normal” rules the legislators were referring to, and assured them these will be considered in the final guidelines.
“Di naman namin ibabalewala 'yan because our Fair Elections Act has specific provisions or specific resolutions regarding what are the legal or kung ano yung mga alituntunin sa ating pagpapatupad,” Casquejo said.