THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) reminded candidates running for local positions in the May polls not to go around campaigning even if just for their allies yet.

Also warned against partisan politics are barangay officials who are observed to be going around posting campaign paraphernalia.

For updates from around the country, follow Sun.Star on Twitter

"We remind those in position and those who plan to run na rin to follow the rules on campaigning," Comelec-Davao Region assistant regional director Marlon Casquejo said during Monday’s Kapihan sa SM media forum.

He said the campaign period for local candidates starts on March 26.

Casquejo said he received reports that barangay officials have been posting campaign paraphernalia in "every strategic place possible." He said barangay officials are prohibited to lead propagandas in support of a candidate.

"It could lead to become a ground for the disqualification of a candidate when complaints backed by evidence would support there was partisan politics," Casquejo said.

He also said there are only limited areas where candidates can post their posters.

"Under the Fair Elections Act, there's a provision on the designated poster areas. Bawal ito sa electric posts, on trees even if it's in a private area as it is against DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) laws. It is allowed, however, at a designated area in the public market and at the headquarters of the candidate, but this too should be registered with the local Comelec office," Casquejo said.

Through the years, campaign posters have been posted anywhere, keeping deputized groups like the police and Comelec busy removing these.

The Philippine National Police will be under the command of the Comelec starting April until the end of elections.

"So we would have them as deputizing agency in implementing the laws set for the elections," Casquejo said.

Meanwhile, Casquejo said Comelec expects to finalize its list of voters Tuesday.

"As of now, Region 11 (Davao Region) has a total of 2,566,727 voters," he said.

He also took exception to criticisms hurled at them because of Saturday's mock elections in the city.

"That was actually only to test whether the machines are working and also the transmission of results. Its benefit was also to show the voting public that the role they'll play would only be shading in correspondence to the candidates they're voting for. Regarding the civil arm's criticism, as take it positively on the sense that we take their observations and provide a solution," he said.

Arrangements are being made so that a clustered precinct will be done in a large classroom where it can serve to 20 to 30 voters at the same time, he added.

"We really expect this election to be a fast one and rid of a lot of problems regarding manual counting of votes. On the argument that the voting time which is 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. is not enough, there will be a conscious adjustment on that. For example the BEIs (Board of Election Inspectors) are instructed not to let a voter stay for so long," he said.

He added that if needed, the voters will be assisted by assistors or the BEIs. “This goes the same for those who are illiterate and disabled."

Casquejo also said that according to voting history, only 80 to 85 percent of the voting population votes on the actual day, which in turn lessens traffic in the poll area.

Comelec regional attorney Danilo Cullo, in an interview Saturday, said the poll body is also open to extending the voting time to midnight.

"Although ideally the voting time ends at 6 p.m., so long as there are voters three meters from the polling area, they will be allowed to vote. Ililista yung mga pangalan nila and they will be allowed to vote even if it's after 6 p.m.," Cullo said. (JCZ)