DILG appeals to candidates to hold off political rallies amid Omicron threat

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INTERIOR and Local Government Secretary Eduardo M. Ano on Thursday appealed to candidates for the May 2022 elections to refrain from holding political rallies amid the threat of a new coronavirus variant.

Political rallies are prohibited as the campaign period has yet to start, he said in a statement, but did not cite any penalties that violators may face.

Under existing laws, the Commission on Elections cannot penalize campaign violations outside the official period, which starts Feb. 8 for national posts and March 25 for local candidates.

“We have been seeing candidates, both national and local, staging political rallies here and there which gather hundreds if not thousands of people. The pandemic is not over yet. The Omicron variant is just about to come,” Mr. Ano said in a mix of English and Filipino.

“We cannot put our guard down. The Omicron variant has already reached many countries and it’s only a matter of time before it reaches us,” he added.

Mr. Ano also said that caravans and motorcades are allowed because physical distancing can be observed and such activities are held outdoors and for a limited period.

“There is a time for everything and now is not the time to gather a huge number of people. Let’s wait for the campaign period… this is not the time to push our luck,” he said. — MSJ