Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima welcomed the lifting of the permit requirement for in-person campaigns by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC).
De Lima, a former election lawyer, said that removing such permit system, which burdens present candidates, can help lead to a more informed electorate.
“The lifting of the election campaign permit requirement by the COMELEC is most welcome,” said De Lima, who is seeking reelection under the Robredo-Pangilinan ticket.
“Fair elections necessitate that candidates be given every opportunity to present their platforms and qualifications. By removing this superfluous permit requirements for candidates, COMELEC is on the right direction towards a better informed electorate,” she added.
Reportedly, COMELEC already pushes to remove the permit requirement for campaign rallies in areas under Alert Levels 1 and 2, which includes the National Capital Region (NCR).
According to COMELEC Commissioner George Garcia, the written recalibrated rules are being routed for the poll officials’ signatures.
The COMELEC permit became a requirement for the 2022 elections as part of COVID-19 safety protocols. Here, permit holders need to submit written reports to the poll body about details of the gathering immediately after the event, such as headcount and activities done.
Supporters of several candidates were quick to criticize the permit system for curtailing their rights of freedom of expression and assembly.
The lady Senator from Bicol maintained that it was never realistic to expect COMELEC to scrutinize each and every event of each and every candidate for the duration of the campaign period.
“As I have said before, it is an unnecessary bureaucratic requirement for all candidates. Certainly, it is not something COMELEC is staffed or equipped to do,” she said.
“At its best, it is just an accumulation of wastepaper in the COMELEC offices where random COMELEC officials skim through the paperwork only to end up mechanically approving the request. At worst, it is a means to put candidates with limited resources at even more disadvantage by giving them more hoops through which to jump,” she added. (30)