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Slice of Life
Wednesday, February 6, 2013
UNFORTUNATELY, existing laws allow it.
The Commission on Elections cannot go after politicians who are indirectly campaigning by appearing on television, radio and other forms of advertisements. Not until the official campaign period begins on February 12 for senatorial and party list bets and March 29 for candidates to local positions.
Under Section 13 of the Poll Automation Law, “a person shall only be considered as a candidate at the start of the campaign period for which he filed his certificate of candidacy.” Without any policy against premature campaigning, media exposure for political candidates can continue and could not be considered as an offense for as long as they do not explicitly ask the public to vote for them.
No wonder billboards and tarpaulins displaying photos and names of politicians have sprouted more than six months before the election period. In anticipation of the election period, politicians have taken the opportunity to present themselves in whatever way and form in the name of recall.
Given the various forms of social media and the resources that politicians can muster to spend in the name of ‘public service’, it seems that Comelec may find it hard to ensure fair election practices. It however warned candidates that while early campaigning can be considered as technically legal, propaganda materials on television, print, radio and the Internet can be considered as election expenditures that winning politicians must report before they are allowed to assume their posts.
In the absence of a law against premature campaigning, nothing could stop electoral candidates from taking every opportunity for exposure, be it in the traditional media outlets or in social media. In 2009, a Supreme Court decision paved the way for the removal of premature campaigning as an election offense.
In that breath, nothing can be done to stop politicians from dancing their way to promote themselves. We can heave a sigh but they will be there, unless voters become mature enough to choose their candidates.
Slim chance though. The psychology of voters and consumers are the same as both tend to choose candidates and products based on recall. Always, electoral candidates will make use of all mediums to promote themselves and a bit of their priorities. They may even point out to the need for the electorate to be informed on their personal and political life, or to conveniently refresh the nations’ sense of history by tapping on the legacy of their parents when their own performance wanes.
In the bigger scheme of things, the public are easily persuaded by politicians who make them laugh, sing, dance and hope for better things in life. As always, advertorials, news and social networks can host these forms of early campaigning. The public has to brace itself when election propaganda officially takes off in all media outlets. One can talk about delicadeza but unfortunately, there is also no law that prohibits politicians from advertising themselves. Besides, some things work both ways. Email comments to email@example.com
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on February 06, 2013.