IF YOU are confused about the meaning of “campaign period” in relation to the elections this May, blame Congress, the Supreme Court and Comelec. Yesterday was supposed to be the official start of the campaign period for the national polls, but what’s the difference? It seems like candidates have started campaigning eons ago, right?

It used to be that after candidates had filed their certificates of candidacy (which for this year’s elections was last November yet) all premature campaigning would stop. Which means that from December to January the public would have been spared those TV and radio spots repeatedly uttering the names of candidates mostly presidential wannabes.

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But the Supreme Court, referring to a provision in the automation law passed by Congress recently, affirmed that “any person who files his certificate of candidacy within (the filing period) shall only be considered a candidate at the start of the campaign period for which he filed his certificate of candidacy.” That redefined “premature campaigning.”

Confused? Who isn’t? How can a person, whose certificate of candidacy has been approved by the Comelec, be a non-candidate as yet just because he/she still has to “officially” start campaigning? But the logic of the law sometimes defies logic.

And so Comelec declared Feb. 9 as the start of a campaign period that started months before.

Anyway, the campaign period for national polls has “started.”

Meaning that the campaign guidelines that candidates violated with impunity before the campaign period “started” will now apply---finally. Finally? Okay, let’s just say that is true in theory. So we have this: air time: 120 minutes; poster size: 2 feet by 3 feet; poster areas: designated.

Sen. Manny Villar reportedly bought from January 1-9, 2010 alone 296 minutes of TV commercials. That’s only for campaign jingles.

Consider that Villar also showed up in popular TV shows and sponsors game segments in noontime shows “Eat Bulaga” and “Wowowee.” Has Comelec acquired a taxi-meter-like device to be effective?

I talked with a local official of the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas and he said that the broadcast industry’s campaign policy now is that candidates will have to pay if they want to be interviewed on TV and radio during the campaign. Rates pegged is dependent on the network or outlet.

Will these be included in the 120-minute limit?

I am not concerned with the size of the candidates’ posters as much as where these posters are being posted. Comelec officials have promised to remove campaign materials of national candidates posted outside the designated common poster areas.

Some of these campaign materials have sprouted in Metro Cebu and the province.

The motivation behind the setting up of the guidelines is supposed to be fairness. But previous elections have showed that this is only good in theory but not in practice. While we can let out a sigh of relief at the thought that sanity will be restored especially in the barrage of pol- ads we endured the past months, we should not count much on it.

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TRAFFIC LIGHTS. While I was at the corner of P. del Rosario and Junquera Sts., I saw how the traffic anarchy caused by malfunctioning traffic lights in the area resulted in an accident. A taxicab rammed into the left side of a passenger jeepney. The traffic lights in the area have gone wild for weeks already. When will Citom repair these?

(khanwens@yahoo.com/ my blog: cebuano.wordpress.com)