Voting right-A A +A
Saturday, January 26, 2013
A NEW Comelec resolution will regulate the online election advertisements for the coming elections, besides other forms to show fairness in the fight for all concerned. This is voting right.
The May 13 elections will choose 12 new senators (of the 24 seats in the Senate) comprising the 16th Congress, besides the election of leaders to the House of Representatives (233) and to local government positions of provincial governors (80), city (143) and municipal mayors (1,491).
That’s a lot to deal with for the Comelec. But in the past, there were bigger difficulties and there are still problems to solve.
I remember what Father told me about elections in the `40s, in particular the dark side of democracy when the Constitution failed a bit—the election terrorism of 1949 and the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos. In his personal remembrance, Father would talk about a 1949 elections rally at Freedom Park led by then presidential candidate Jose P. Laurel who ran against the incumbent president
Elpidio Quirino. Terrorists from the administration parties started shooting in the air while the crowd scampered in panic. Laurel and his guests on stage all dropped on their stomach to crawl down the stairs with head first. This included Father.
We have to thank God for a time of peace in the campaigns after that, the leaders having fought for reforms, or else how could we have called the nation a democratic country?
The traditional way of political campaigning—that is, going house-to-house—must have been stressful. But at the end of the day, politicians probably got the feeling of victory before the voting because of the people’s enthusiasm about an event, no matter what event took place to break the silence of simple community life, especially when actors and actresses are part of the campaigning team.
Along the way were seen abuses of campaign rules. But at a certain point in the full birth of democracy in the country, there were the dark effects of elections.
Today a politician running for office could attend parties every day within the campaign period at the same time that ads for him flash on TV, radio commercials or interviews are heard everywhere, and the cyber animal can’t miss the campaign online. This, while the candidate personally does the propaganda rounds in person.
But we still have to deal with fraud and illegalities in the campaigns throughout the country. Or small unfair practices.
Even though there are campaigners who feel some rules are unfair, the Comelec seems set on its rules to regulate the propaganda of candidates to make the campaign fair for everyone.
There are no guns used, unlike in the terrorism of the campaign in the `40s but there must be even-handedness in the campaign. And Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. is set to impose rules on fairness on all candidates. The Comelec considers the importance of the implementing rules and guidelines, even up to the slightest detail.
The new rules are in Republic Act 9006, or the Fair Elections Act. Of one of the rules, the campaigners have only 120 minutes to show advertisements on television and 180 minutes on radio. And in the new rules, the Comelec talks about sizes of online materials in terms of height, “pop-up”, rectangle sizes, banner, half-page ads, especially on online campaigning..
Prior approval by the Comelec must be secured
Ads in newspapers should not be published more than three times a week per newspaper or magazine. The size of print ads should be within 1/4 page in broadsheets and 1/2 in tabloids.
And for violations of the rules, there are punishments to election offense (as the rules are considered), which has one to six years of imprisonment and the removal of the right to vote and to run for public office.
The new Fair Elections Act will strengthen the right to vote.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 27, 2013.