The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Monday denounced the lack of physical distancing during events conducted by politicians gunning for posts in the 2022 national elections.

While the Comelec has declared violations of Covid-19 health and safety protocols as election offenses, its spokesman said the poll body could not do anything yet as it was not yet campaign period.

“Sa nakikita natin ngayon, nilabas nga natin nang maaga [‘yung guidelines] pero wala, ‘di naman sinusunod, siksikan pa rin ang mga tao,” he said in a radio interview.

Jimenez said it was the Department of the Interior and Local Government’s task to sanction distancing violations outside the campaign period.

Comelec’s campaign period guidelines will take effect on Feb. 8, 2022 for national candidates and March 25, 2022 for local candidates.

Under Resolution No. 10730, the Comelec said it would be unlawful for any candidate, party, or any person to “act in a manner that violates the minimum health and safety protocols.”

Health and safety protocols listed by the Comelec under the resolution were:

1. wearing of face mask and face shield;
2. one-meter physical distancing;
3. frequent disinfection of hands; and
4. proper cough and sneezing etiquette

The Comelec also required the submission of affidavits of compliance with health protocols.

“Within 24 hours after the conclusion of any in-person campaign activity, the campaign organizing staff shall submit a notarized affidavit of compliance with health protocols to the Comelec with territorial jurisdiction over the place where the in-person campaign activity was conducted,” the Comelec said.

Failure to submit such affidavit will be considered non-cooperation, which the Comelec said was punishable under the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act. John Ezekiel J. Hirro