MANILA – The political cauldron continues to heat up in the Philippines as the country’s next election on May 9, 2022 approaches.

As political pundits predict a presidential run for presidential daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio and Vice President Leonor “Leni” Robredo, bouyed by her win in a presidential protest against former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has set the one-week filing of Certificates of Candidacy (COC) for all elective positions for the May 9, 2022 National and Local Elections to October 1 to 8 this year.

Even as President Rodrigo Duterte, who graduates on June 30 as the country’s Chief Executive, continues to dissuade in public pronouncements Mayor Duterte from gunning for the presidency, supporters of the feisty lawyer-mayor plastered tarpaulins and distribute calendars with her photo in various cities urging her run for president, supporters of Robredo, also a lawyer and former congresswoman from Camarines Sur, came out in the open in Cebu City and other areas calling on her to run.

Mayor Duterte said she would not run, later she said she would run if the opposition will also support her as their candidate and then she declared she would run in 2032, confusing the political scenario, just like when her father declared he would not run in 2016.

Marcos, on the other hand, has been appearing in radio-television programs as if he is ready to run again, this time reportedly for president.

Senator Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao, meanwhile, has been going around extending aid to typhoon and calamities victims and coming off radio and television interviews, among the latest was with popular host Willie Revillame in his “Wowowi” program on GMA Network, indicating that he will run for president, vice president or senator again. Pacquiao is the current president of the administration party PDP-Laban which has President Duterte as titular head.

Another popular mayor, Francisco Domagoso, who is popularly known by his movie name Isko Moreno, is being convinced by many to run for president, but he reportedly declined and would rather seek reelection as Manila mayor.

Also being convinced to run for president is business tycoon, Ramon S. Ang, president and chief operations officer of the San Miguel group of companies, and the country’s richest Filipino, former Senate President and Speaker Manuel Villar Jr. who currently heads the Villar group of business empire which is into real estate, malls, development and other businesses.

Under Comelec Resolution 10695 made public over the weekend, the poll body has also set the campaign period for candidates in national positions (President, Vice-President, Senator, and party-list groups) from Feb. 8, 2022 to May 7, 2022.

The Comelec also set that for candidates in local elective positions (members of House of Representatives and regional, provincial, city, and municipal officials), campaigning begins only on March 25, 2022 but also ends on May 7, 2022.

However, campaigning is prohibited during Maundy Thursday and Good Friday on April 14 and 15 next year, respectively.

The election period begins on Jan. 9, 2022 and ends on June 8, 2022, during which the gun ban is in effect. This means bearing, carrying, or transporting firearms or other deadly weapons is prohibited unless authorized in writing by the Comelec.

Also prohibited are: the use of security or bodyguards by candidates unless authorized in writing by the Comelec; organization or maintenance of reaction forces, strike forces, or similar forces; alteration of the territory of a precinct or establishment of a new precinct; transfer or movement of officers and employees in the civil service; and suspension of elective local officials.

Under the overseas absentee voting system. overseas voters may cast their votes in Philippine embassies, consulates, and other posts for one month, from April 10 to May 9 next year.

Campaigning abroad, however, is prohibited during this period.

On the other hand, local absentee voters have three days to vote on April 27 to 29, 2022.

The last day for filing an application to be a local absentee voter is on March 7, 2022.

A liquor ban will be in effect from May 8 to 9 next year, where selling, furnishing, offering, buying, serving, or taking intoxicating liquor is prohibited.

Campaigning is prohibited on the eve of Election Day and Election Day itself.

Also banned are the acts of giving or accepting free transportation, food or drinks, or things of value; and soliciting votes or undertaking any propaganda for or against a candidate or any political party in the polling place or within 30 meters of the area.

Also not allowed are the opening of booths or stalls for the sale of merchandise or refreshments within a 30-meter radius from the polling place; and the holding of fairs, cockfights, boxing, horse races, or similar sports.

Meanwhile, over 1.3 million would be voters have so far filed their applications for registration for the May 2022 national and local elections, according to the Comelec.

Latest data from the poll body’s Election Records and Statistics Department (ERSD) showed that a total of 1,339,346 applications have been processed nationwide as of Feb. 4.

The Comelec is looking to register some 4 million new voters during the nationwide voter registration that resumed on Sept. 1, 2020 and will run until Sept. 30, 2021.
The Comelec said close to 700 Filipinos abroad have registered for the test run of internet voting.

“As per OFOV (Office for Overseas Voting), overall figure is 697 as of Feb. 14, 2021,” it said.

The poll body also reminded foreign and domestic observers who are interested in covering the March 13, 2021 Palawan plebiscite that they can now secure accreditation from the Comelec.

From Feb. 8 to 15, 2021, foreign and domestic observers with official addresses in the National Capital Region may submit their applications for accreditation with the head of the Education and Information Department (EID); for observers residing in other provinces within Region 4-B (Mimaropa) with the Regional Election Director of Region 4-B; and for domestic observers residing within the province of Palawan, with the Provincial Election Supervisor (PES) of Palawan.

It said applicants must submit a duly accomplished application form; two recent 1.5”x1.5” colored photographs of the applicant; if foreigner or foreign group, organization or committee or association organization, endorsement issued by the ambassador or consul of the applicant’s home country; and terms of reference or similar document, explaining the purposes of the election observation mission.

Upon approval of the application, Accredited Observer Passes will be issued, which will grant access and other privileges relating to the conduct of the plebiscite. The passes may be confiscated and the accreditation revoked for violation of the guidelines for accreditation.

The Comelec said observers or monitors must have a bonafide intention to participate in the conduct of the plebiscite and must be free from any political, economic or other conflicts of interests that would interfere with conducting observations/monitoring impartially.

They are also expected to strictly adhere to the code of conduct and refrain from engaging in any of the prohibited acts laid down in the guidelines, it added