Junk premature campaigners fast

January 08, 2019

Left and right, calls are being made for unscrupulous politicians to refrain from using the Feast of the Black Nazarene and the accompanying ‘Traslacion’ to promote their candidacy.

Undoubtedly,  such is the biggest religious event in the country where millions of Catholic faithful, particularly devotees to the Black Nazarene, participate, making it so ripe for premature campaigning, indeed.

Commission on Election (Comelec) spokesman James Jimenez is among those calling on candidates to spare the ‘Traslacion’ from politics, saying ‘there is a time for politics and that ‘the campaign period is coming up very fast and many politicians have already been campaigning anyway.’

The official campaign period for senatorial candidates and for partylist groups is from February 12 to May 11, 2019, while the campaign period for members of the House of Representatives and elective regional, provincial, city and municipal posts will be from March 30 to May 11, 2019.  Campaigning is prohibited on April 28 (Maundy Thursday) and April 19 (Good Friday).

Candidates are well aware of this and yet, they campaign outside the official campaign period. Why?  Because when the said period starts, all of the rules and restrictions with regard to the conduct of the campaign will have to be respected, as per the ‘Fair Election Act’.

As of late, countless candidates have already come up with political advertisements and put up posters, tarpaulins and other campaign materials, way ahead of the designated period.  Obviously, they are taking advantage of a Supreme Court ruling that effectively removed the prohibition on premature campaigning.

Jimenez says that  social media accounts, posters and text blasts propagated before the start of the official campaign period may be deemed “illegal” for other reasons but not for being election offenses -- disgusting but not an election offense.

“Hindi ‘yan pwedeng tawagin election offense na premature campaigning simply because premature campaigning is almost no longer possible. ‘Yun ang problema natin diyan.  Until the start of the campaign period, hindi po yan illegal. Kadiri siya pero hindi siya illegal,” he explained further.

The Supreme Court, in the case of Rosalinda Penera against the Comelec and Edgar Andanar, ruled that under the Omnibus Election Code, ‘premature campaigning’ can only be deemed so only at the start of the campaign period, when a person who filed a certificate of candidacy is officially considered a candidate.

‘Only after said person officially becomes a candidate, at the start of the campaign period, can his/her disqualification be sought for acts constituting premature campaigning,’ the court said, adding that ‘obviously, it is only at the start of the campaign period, when the person officially becomes a candidate, that the undue and iniquitous advantages of his/her prior acts, constituting premature campaigning, shall accrue to his/her benefit.’

The loophole in the law allows politicians to make a mockery of the elections and the rules governing it. Sadly, a law will have to be enacted to correct the situation and the only ones who can do this are the politicians themselves.

Premature campaigning is truly disgusting no matter how you look at it. It shows how thick-faced our politicians are and how they would go to great lengths just to gain votes.

We, as voters, must remember these politicians, memorize their names and their faces and come election day, junk them real fast. These unprincipled lot do not deserve to be in public service, moreso, become leaders of our country for lacking delicadeza and the moral conscience to play even, two very important traits that our leaders should possess, if we want our country to not go to the dogs.

For me, it is better to leave these politicians be. Let them put up all their campaign materials in the route procession.   This way, the devotees know who not to vote for in the coming polls.

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Jokjok (from Rafael Dimagiba of Valenzuela City) -- TATAY: Hoy, Juan! Halika nga dito! Nakita ko ‘tong card mo nakaipit sa libro. Ano ibig sabihin nito? Bakit puro ‘F’ ang nakalagay sa bawat subject? Ha? Ipaliwanag mo nga!/JUAN: ‘Tay naman, napaka-simple. Ang ibig sabihin ng ‘F’ sa card ko ay ‘Fasado’ po!/TATAY: Ah…  okay... sayang! Akala ko pa naman ‘Ferfect!’

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