Comelec sets strict health protocols for October filing of COCs

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 20) — The Commission on Elections laid out strict health protocols for the filing of candidacies in October for the 2022 general election.

Despite limited movement arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, Comelec said it will still require the physical filing of certificates of candidacies or COCs on October 1-8 for those seeking elective posts.

Comelec offices will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Under Comelec Resolution 10717 issued Wednesday, those filing their COCs at the Comelec main office in Manila — namely for president, vice president, senator, party-list, and their representatives — must present a negative antigen or RT-PCR test taken 24 hours before the day of filing.

Comelec personnel facing the applicants, political or sectoral party officials, as well as media representatives covering the event, are also required to present negative tests. Testing services will be offered onsite for free to aspirants “who do not intend to spend for or cannot afford antigen testing,” Comelec employees, and military and police deployed to secure the area.

The May 9 election is the first to be held in the middle of a pandemic.

READ: Comelec releases calendar for 2022 elections

Crowds of supporters are not expected to form outside the Comelec had office at the Palacio del Gobernador in Intramuros, Manila or in any other Comelec offices. Based on the rules published online on Friday, a national candidate can only bring three people with them for the event. A party-list group can only send one official plus one escort, while all other elective officials may bring two people with them at the receiving office.

Onsite, candidates must wear surgical or medical-grade masks. Those only wearing cloth or valved masks will not be allowed entry, as well as people exhibiting flu-like symptoms or with a high body temperature. An authorized representative may file the COC on their behalf.

RELATED: DOH recommends use of surgical mask amid spike in COVID-19 cases

The in-person filing of COCs will be considered an “essential activity,” which will allow aspiring political candidates to head out of their homes as authorized persons outside residence or APOR if their area is under enhanced community quarantine or modified ECQ.

Comelec marshals are tasked to implement physical distancing at the receiving offices.

Prior to the COC filing period, Comelec said it is allowing political parties to hold conventions to choose their official candidates for next year’s elections between September 1-28. By Sept. 30, parties must submit a list of authorized signatories with specimen signatures to the poll body.