‘Epals’ in barangay polls-A A +A
Tuesday, October 1, 2013
THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) has set for Oct. 11 to Oct. 17 the filing of the certificates of candidacy for the Oct. 29 barangay elections.
That’s at least ten days from now. But this early, tarpaulins of would-be candidates have already sprouted in many barangays.
That’s premature campaigning, although under our unique election laws that is not prohibited. That only becomes illegal once candidates file their certificates of candidacy on, say, Oct. 11 and displays their tarpaulins before Oct. 18, the official start of the campaign period.
I visited Barangay Inayawan last Sunday and saw big tarpaulins (one of them was displayed on the façade of the barangay hall) hung in many areas announcing the candidacies of Lotlot Ignacio and her slate for councilor, which includes her father, Rustom, the current barangay chief.
Not to be outdone, tarpaulins of her would-be opponent, Rodrigo “Rigoy” Ocampo, also with his slate, are displayed in some areas, although these were fewer and far between, reflecting the size of the resources each of the opposing groups possess.
Ignacio ran for Cebu City councilor under Team Rama but lost. Finding out which group is being supported by the Bando Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK) is therefore not difficult to do.
Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes yesterday called on those planning to run for Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) posts not to waste their time and money engaging in premature campaigning. The bill postponing the SK elections was ratified by both houses of Congress last week and is awaiting the signature of President Noynoy Aquino.
"Nag-aaksaya lang kayo ng pera dahil hindi naman matutuloy na ang SK elections," Brillantes said. Of course, it is still possible the President won’t sign the measure, but considering Malacañang’s silence on the issue, chances are the President is not opposed to the postponement.
So Brillantes has received word about the premature campaigning done not only by SK hopefuls but also would-be candidates for the barangay elections. As expected, he
expressed helplessness considering that Comelec could not do anything about it.
"Sila 'yung mga tinatawag na epal. Medyo makakapal ang mukha na nagdidi-dikit na diyan agad. They are taking advantage of the fact that they are not violating anything in placing their posters before the campaign period," Brillantes said.
The issuance by the Supreme Court of an order that temporarily bars the release of the remaining Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of lawmakers for 2013 seems to have also affected the conduct of the Oct. 29 barangay elections. Had it been “happy days are here again,” premature campaigning by barangay elections hopefuls would have been noisier.
Congressmen, though, can still provide funds for their favored barangay candidates by soliciting campaign money from their financiers from the business sector. But the “commissions” from PDAF projects (both the “hard” ones or infra projects and the “soft” for non-government organizations, some of them bogus) are the bigger campaign funds source.
Also, there are still officials of municipalities, cities and provinces who can provide the funding needs of favored barangay bets. But nothing compares with both lawmakers and local government officials joining forces to help the candidates they are supporting win.
Indeed, one of the reasons why former mayor Tomas Osmeña and former congressman Antonio Cuenco had a falling out years ago was because Osmeña felt that Cuenco did not work hard to help their allied candidates in the barangay polls win.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 01, 2013.