Time to hold elections now-A A +A
Friday, March 22, 2013
THE campaign period for the May 13 elections for local posts and House of Representatives seats will officially start next week. I’d rather that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) already holds the polls by that time. I mean, there’s no need for an official campaign period when candidates have gone unfettered on the campaign trail months before.
Consider Cebu City. Posters of candidates have been pasted on unsuspecting walls and giant tarpaulins have been hung everywhere, including, unashamedly, on facades of barangay halls since a couple of years ago. The first wave came from the Bando Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK) with the names and photos of their bets for the posts of councilor and the House and those “Type O” logos sprouting like mushrooms.
Incidentally, south district Rep. Tomas Osmeña, who is running for the city’s top post against reelectionist Mayor Michael Rama, has disowned those “Type O” tarps with his absurd claim that “Type O” is a “registered commercial trademark not owned by me.” Of course, we all know what the “O” in “Type O” is supposed to refer to Osmeña.
By claiming that “Type O” is the name of a t-shirt brand (“Type O Fashion Garments”) and is therefore not a campaign material, Osmeña hopes that Comelec won’t have the courage to take these out once the official campaign period starts. The Fair Elections Act limits the size of posters and streamers and the places these are posted or hung.
This is the latest of the attempts of Osmeña and the BOPK to dumb down the interpretation of the country’s election laws. The other act was in their fielding three-term north district Councilor Augustus Pe Jr. as candidate for the same post in the south district in order to skirt the three-term limit imposed by the 1987 Constitution.
Anyway, the next wave of posters and streamers that flooded the city already came from Team Rama. The mayor had earlier ordered the clearing of the city of campaign posters and streamers but had said lately that he would no longer issue the same order. It’s not just mere coincidence that he said this when Team Rama posters and streamers have sprouted everywhere.
On the airlanes, meanwhile, both the BOPK and Team Rama brought radio time in certain radio stations as early as several months ago. I listen to these radio programs and these make me feel like I am already running smack into the campaign season. The candidates for mayor and vice mayor, line-ups for councilors in both the south and north districts and the candidates for Congress are unabashedly promoted in these programs.
In the province, posters and streamers of candidates have also sprouted although these are not as ubiquitous as in Cebu City. On the air lanes, One Cebu is taking the lead over the Liberal Party in the purchase of programs and broadcasters that would promote their candidates.
This is happening because Comelec has long ruled that the phrase “premature campaigning” has already been taken off our election laws’ vocabulary after the Supreme Court ruled that the said election laws apply only to the official campaign period. So while candidates are already campaigning months before the start of the official campaign period, no premature campaigning has been involved.
And since areas in the country like Cebu City has already been saturated with election propaganda, why not hold already the elections, say, immediately after the Holy Week?
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 22, 2013.