CANDIDATES for the May polls were reminded anew to follow the Commission on Elections (Comelec) rules and regulations to avoid penalties and possible imprisonment.

The Comelec cited that despite the start of the campaign period for the national candidates in the May 10 elections, violations were already noted.

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Many national candidates did not remove their campaign materials until now on prohibited areas like in the lump posts, trees, wires, churches and other areas which were not included in the designated common poster areas, said Comelec provincial supervisor Jessie Suarez on Tuesday.

Education Secretary Jesli Lapus also issued a statement prohibiting the posting of campaign materials in schools. 

The common poster areas designated by Comelec include the barangay halls, public markets, sports complex or basketball courts and public plazas.

Candidates may also post campaign advertisements in private buildings or places only if the owners give their consent, Suarez said.

Banners shall only be posted in the declared station or headquarters of the candidate’s political party, he said.

Suarez appealed to the candidates to voluntarily remove those illegally posted campaign materials.

The Comelec designated some of its personnel to do rounds in their respective areas of jurisdiction to see to it that the Comelec rules on designated common poster areas are followed.

Those candidates who are violating will be reminded and will be given three days to comply, said Suarez. 

If they fail to comply, we will be forced to bring up the matter to the Legal Department of Comelec, he added.

Erring politicians will be meted with one year to six years imprisonment and will be perpetually disqualified to hold office if found guilty of any election offense, Suarez said. 

Violations of Comelec rules and regulation are non-bailable, explained Suarez.

Candidates who will post their posters in private residences must secure a waiver or consent of the owners of the house or any private structures, or else it will be illegal, Suarez added.

Specific dimension or measurement of banners shall be two by three feet.

In the past elections, no prosecution happened although it was noted that many candidates violated some election rules and regulations because there was no complainant.

The local candidates, however, are still free to post their campaign material without restrictions as the campaign period for local candidates will start on March 26, 2010.

The same common poster areas are designated for both local and national candidates.