By Joseph B.A. Marzan
The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) Iloilo City office and other officials are ready for the filing of Certificates of Candidacy (COC) and of Nomination and Acceptance (CONA) for the 2022 national and local elections which starts today, Oct. 1, 2021.
COMELEC Iloilo City, the Iloilo City Government, and the Iloilo City Police Station 1 (ICPS-1) conducted a simulation exercise at the local poll office at the Iloilo Terminal Market on Thursday, Sept. 30.
Protocols placed by the COMELEC due to the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic were demonstrated by involved personnel.
Potential candidates (or their authorized representatives) and their two companions will enter through the COMELEC admin office door and will stay in a waiting or holding area.
They will then be ushered by COMELEC or police personnel to the registration area, where they will submit the requirements.
Candidates will be required to wear face masks and face shields and observe physical distancing all throughout the process.
Police personnel will be present to assist the COMELEC and the city government’s compliance team in implementing the protocols.
COMELEC Iloilo City spokesperson Jonathan Sayno told Daily Guardian that aside from COVID—19 protocols, they also simulated bomb threats, shootings, and other unexpected events which may happen during the filing period.
But despite the challenge of COVID-19 and other issues, Sayno said that they are confident the process will run smoothly.
“We are very ready. At any time, we can open the filing of our COCs. We have our protocols secured, and the COCs and CONAs available both online and offline. We will just have to wait for the candidates to file,” Sayno said.
ICPS-1 chief Capt. Shella Mae Sangrines told Bombo Radyo Iloilo that while the security component was “almost complete”, their concern was coordination with the market vendors on the first floor, which she admitted was complicated by the pandemic.
“We saw that there were some small things that needed to be polished, but we also saw that the readiness of our personnel when it comes to the security component is almost complete. Our only concern there is to strengthen coordination with establishments there especially with the vendors,” Sangrines said.
As to the possible influx of supporters, Iloilo City Compliance Team chief Nestor Canong told Daily Guardian that the ICPS-1, the Iloilo City Police Office, and the city government will stand by to make sure that protocols will still be followed.
Canong recognized that there may be possible violations of physical distancing and non-wearing of face coverings, saying that they and the COMELEC will be very strict on the two-companion and the “no face mask, no face shield, no entry” rules.
“We have deployed in place our security forces who are already there, and we have placed yellow police lines and cordoned area so that people wouldn’t crowd up the entrance of the Iloilo Terminal Market. We did the simulation exercise also particularly because of that, because we expect that people will gather to show support for their candidates,” Canong said in a phone interview.
Filing of COCs and CONAs will run from Oct. 1 to 8, 2021. Voter’s registration and other frontline COMELEC services would be suspended on these dates and will resume on Oct. 11 up to Oct. 30.