Presidential aspirants Bongbong Marcos and Manny Pacquiao on Monday suspended all physical gatherings and activities for their 2022 campaign as COVID-19 cases in the country continue to rise.
From Jan. 3 to 15, all campaign-related activities of Marcos and his running mate Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio will be deferred, his spokesperson Vic Rodriguez said.
Marcos also ordered the closure of the BBM-Sara UniTeam headquarters in Mandaluyong City starting Monday until futher notice for disinfection after more than 20 of their staff tested positive for COVID-19, he added.
"Campaign preparations and other administrative functions of the UniTeam will proceed non-stop through work-from-home arrangements and virtual meetings of the concerned staffers and campaign personnel," Rodriguez said.
"The UniTeam also advises all its supporters nationwide to exercise self-restraint and avoid holding unilateral campaign or political activities that might result in the further surge of COVID-19 cases in their areas," he added.
Pacquiao also advised his team to temporarily suspend all political gatherings and focus more on organizing virtual meetings to support the government's goal to bring down COVID-19 cases.
"We need to allow the government to take all the appropriate steps to address the rising number of COVID cases," he said in a separate statement.
Despite the suspension of his political gatherings, Pacquiao said the relief efforts he initiated for the victims of Typhoon Odette will continue as usual.
Metro Manila was upgraded to Alert Level 3 starting Monday until Jan. 15 after infections increased in the days following Christmas. On Monday, a total of 4,084 new cases were reported.
The government also warned of a "high possibility" of local transmission of the more contagious Omicron variant after three local cases were reported last Friday. In total, the Philippines has 14 confirmed Omicron variant cases, the Department of Health said.