PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte on Thursday issued Proclamation 719 declaring Election Day, May 13, as a special non-working holiday nationwide.

“There is a need to declare Monday, 13 May 2019, a special (non-working) holiday to enable the people to properly exercise their right to vote,” the proclamation reads.

Executive Secretary Salvador C. Medialdea signed the proclamation for the President on Thursday, four days ahead of the May 13 midterm elections.

In his speech at a campaign rally in Bohol on Wednesday night, Mr. Duterte said he will ensure the orderly and peaceful conduct of elections during his term.

“I promised the people that kaning (this) election and every other election that will take place during my time, my watch na — you just follow rules. It’s when you start to break rules…that…it starts to magka-leche-leche (things get complicated). Eh, sundin mo lang ‘yung batas at walang problema (Just follow the law and there will be no problem),” he said.

The President also reminded the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police to remain neutral.

“I made a commitment that ‘yung (the) mga sa Armed Forces at ang mga pulis (and the Police) must be neutral, pati ako (including me),” he said.

“Cabinet members are in the gray area [on] whether or not they can campaign for any particular candidate. But a popular notion is that…they can. But pinagbawalan ko sila kasi (But I prohibited them because) every time that you go out…, you use gasoline of the government….” Mr. Duterte said.

Also on Thursday, the Philippine National Police (PNP) announced a liquor ban starting 12:00 midnight of May 12 until midnight of May 13. — Arjay L. Balinbin and Vince Angelo C. Ferreras