FORTY out of the 62 senatorial candidates were found to have illegal campaign materials three days into the campaign period for the May 13 midterm elections.
“34, plus 6 senatorial candidates have illegal posters, as of yesterday (February 14),” said Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner Rowena Guanzon in her Twitter account.
The candidates were identified as Freddie Aguilar, Ibrahim Albani, Gary Alejano, Richard Alfajora, Raffy Alunan, Sonny Angara, Bam Aquino, Ernesto Arellano, Marcelino Arias, Bernard Austria, Nancy Binay, Edmundo Casiño, Pia Cayetano, Glenn Chong, Neri Colmenares, Chel Diokno, JV Ejercito, Jinggoy Estrada, Larry Gadon, and Conrado Generoso.
Also listed were Florin Hilbay, Leborio Jangao, Rodolfo Javellana, Lito Lapid, Romy Macalintal, Emily Mallillin, Faisal Mangondato, Zajid Mangudadatu, Sonny Matula, Luther Meniano, Allan Montaño, Willie Ong, Serge Osmeña, Koko Pimentel, Grace Poe, Danilo Roleda, Lorenzo Tañada, Francis Tolentino, Antonio Valdes, and Cynthia Villar.
Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said the candidates earlier found to have illegal campaign materials will be given the opportunity to comply with existing campaign rules.
“We are just informing them of our guidelines and are giving them warnings to comply. After their receipt of the notices, they need to take actions immediately,” said Jimenez in a media forum in Manila.
“If they don’t take action with their violations, then that becomes reportable. For now, we are just giving them the opportunity to clean up their violations,” he added.
Aside from the 40, more bets may soon face the Comelec's action as the poll body officially commenced Friday, February 15, with its monitoring and documentation of illegal propaganda materials.
Jimenez said they were able to document more illegal campaign materials, whose featured candidates shall also be issued notices.
“We will write a letter informing the candidates of these violations and tell them to comply with our campaign regulations,” he said.
Aside from documenting the prohibitive campaign materials, he said they will also be immediately taken down.
“As soon as we documented the material, we take it down to minimize its effect on the electorate,” said Jimenez.
Earlier, Jimenez said they will be on the lookout for oversized campaign materials, as well as those that are not in common poster areas.
Violations of campaign rules shall be tantamount to an election offense, which carries the penalty of one to six years imprisonment, removal of right to vote, and disqualification from holding public office. (HDT/SunStar Philippines)