AMID the continued threat of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), the Commission on Elections (Comelec) will require politicians who will file their Certificates of Candidacy (COCs) to present a negative swab or antigen test result and limit their companions to two or three individuals.
Resolution 10717 of the Comelec en banc directs aspirants for the positions of president, vice president and senator to present a negative result from an RT-PCR test or antigen test taken within the last 24 hours prior to filing of COC and Certificates of Nomination and Acceptance (Cona).
Also required to present negative swab test results are the authorized representative of the aspirants; chairperson, president, secretary general or authorized representative of the political party, sectoral party, organization or coalition for the party-list system; companions of the aspirants and representative of the political party, sectoral party, organization or coalition for the party-list system, if any; personnel of the commission in charge of receiving COC/Cona; the organic security force personnel of the commission; Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP); and all media personnel covering the event.
No test, no access
The Comelec said the antigen testing of the aspirants and their companions/escorts, and all media personnel shall be at the expense of and provided onsite by the commission and shall be done in a space near the receiving office/venue for filing.
“Any person without negative antigen testing result shall not be allowed access in the receiving office/venue for filing,” said the poll body.
The Comelec also requires everybody to wear well-fitting masks (surgical mask, N95, KN95) that completely cover their nose and mouth, as well as face shields while inside the receiving office/venue for filing.
Persons wearing cloth masks, with or without filter, as well as masks with valves shall not be allowed inside the premises unless there is another layer of surgical mask, N95, or KN95.
It also said that all persons shall be subjected to health checks, such as temperature screening and accomplishment of health declaration form issued by the commission.
The Comelec said physical distancing within the premises shall likewise be strictly observed during the COC filing.
Filing of COCs for the May 2022 national and local elections will be from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. of Oct. 1 to 8, 2021.
Aspirants for president, vice president, senators and party-list groups shall be held at the Comelec Law Department in Intramuros, Manila.
To ensure that physical distancing will be observed, the Comelec has also decided to limit the number of companions of those filing their COCs to two or three.
Aspirants for any elective office or their authorized representatives will be allowed to be escorted by a maximum of two persons.
Aspirants for the position of president, vice president and senators may be accompanied by up to three persons.
For party-list groups, the Comelec said the Cona may be filed by either the chairperson, president, secretary general, or any authorized representative of the political party, sectoral party, organization or coalition. One companion is allowed.
The presence of the nominees of the party-list groups is not required.
An independent candidate, political party or accredited citizen’s arm shall be allowed one watcher each within the premises of the receiving office.
Meanwhile, Cebu Provincial Election Supervisor Marco Lionel Castillano clarified that local politicians who plan to file their COCs/Cona are not required to submit a negative RT-PCR or antigen test.
“No. Only for national candidates that will file with the law department,” he said in a text message to SunStar Cebu. (HDT / SunStar Philippines / with a report from WBS)