Agencies rehearse possible scenarios during COC filing

AS PART of preparations for the filing of the certificates of candidacy (COC) for the May 2022 local and national elections, the

Commission on Elections (Comelec)-Cebu City, the Cebu City Police Office and the Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office conducted a simulation exercise on Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021.

Police Capt. Edgar Labe, Waterfront Police station chief and ground commander, said among the scenarios that they simulated were the possibility of an unruly crowd, bomb threats, the presence of suspicious “left-behind” baggage, and a shooting incident.

“So far, we put our personnel in place. We agreed with Attorney (Boholst) that if there are people who will start to gather, we will not wait for them to increase. We will disperse them right away. We will let them understand that we are in the middle of a pandemic. Anyway, the candidates that they support are secured,” Labe said in Cebuano.

“Atty. Boholst” refers to Comelec Cebu City-North District elections officer Chaunsey Boholst.

Labe said about 50 policemen, including intelligence personnel, will be deployed during the eight-day filing of COCs from Oct. 1 to Oct. 8.

He said they have also asked for augmentation forces from other police units.

Aside from the police, the Philippine Army and disaster personnel will also be deployed.

Boholst said the filing of the COC will be from 8 a.m until 5 p.m.

Extra measures

He then reiterated some of the measures that will be implemented to ensure a smooth and safe filing of the COC which includes the setting up of a waiting area for the aspirants awaiting their turn to file their COC.

Photo opportunities will also be limited outside the Comelec office and a backdrop will be made for such purpose.

“When they’re done inside, they will receive the notice to file SOCE (Statement of Comelec Expenditures) and they will be asked to go outside, picture taking, then after, exit,” Boholst said.

Supporters cannot also pass through the barricades that will be put up in the Comelec premises, he said.

He added that candidates will not be allowed to stay long within the Comelec premises and are discouraged to do any form of gimmicks that could possibly draw the public’s attention.

He said, at most, the aspirants will only be spending about three minutes inside the Comelec office for the COC filing.

Meanwhile, Boholst said a day before the start of the filing of the COC, they have not received information from any political party on the time candidates planned to file their COC.

“We were waiting for advance notice so that we could schedule them and avoid situations where they arrive at the same time,” he said.

Even with the filing of their COCs, aspirants are still not bound to the campaign rules until the start of the campaign period next year.