CEBU City politicians caught campaigning during the Holy Week are subject to disqualification and imprisonment, a Commission on Elections (Comelec) official said yesterday.

Lawyer Edwin Cadungog, election officer of Comelec Cebu City south district, said campaigning during the Holy Week, which started last Sunday (Palm Sunday), is an election offense.

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Comelec ruled that a moratorium on all campaign activities, both in the local and national levels, should be observed during Holy Week, especially on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.

Comelec is also reminding local bets to respect the Holy Week rites and to avoid engaging in partisan activities.

Cadungog, however, said that a substantial complaint and evidence must be filed before the Comelec to prove the candidate is violating the law.

“There should be a complaint and documents proving that the candidate has committed an election offense because the candidate may just be attending the religious activities as a mere citizen or as a member of the church,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) has again activated its help desks in major ports in anticipation of the influx of passengers during the Holy Week.

For its part, the Coast Guard District Central Eastern Visayas (CGDCEV) began activating the help desks or public assistance centers (PAC) last Monday.

The PACs, which have been established in various ports in Region 7, will carry out its tasks until April 8.

The PAC will provide information, help, act on complaints and the medical assistance on matters relative to sea travel for convenient, orderly, safe and secure

embarkation of passengers and loading of cargoes, said Capt. Anelito Gabisan, CGDCEV spokesman.

Backing up the PCG personnel are sea marshals composed of private guards of shipping firms, Special Operations Group and K9 personnel and Special Medical Assistance Response Teams.

The CGDCEV advised the passengers to be at the port area at least three hours before departure time and avoid bringing restricted or prohibited items such as flammable

liquids and solids, corrosive materials, toxic and infectious substance, compressed gases, radioactive materials and explosives.

This is to avoid undue delays of ship voyages and inconvenience to other passengers.

The CGDCEV also vowed to strictly implement the Comelec gunban.

So, seafaring gunholders should bring along with them complete documents, including the Comelec exemption permit.

The implementation of the PAC is in coordination with the local shipping companies, shipowners and motorboat operators, the Philippine Ports Authority, Maritime Industry Authority, PNP Maritime Group, PCG auxiliary and other maritime stakeholders.

For complaints and suggestions, the seafaring public may contact the CGDCEV hotline (032) 416-6566 or mobile phone 0929-686-4123.

Meanwhile, Cebu City Police Office Director Patrocinio Comendador Jr. did not see the need to initiate a peace covenant among the local candidates in the city for an honest and peaceful May polls.

Judging from the two previous elections, Comendador said there had been no violence that occurred in the city.

And for him, those who will sign the supposed covenant should be sincere in doing so and “not just for show.”

The signing of the peace covenant, he said, should be initiated by the Commission on Elections.

Comendador said he received an order from the higher police headquarters directing all the police offices to hold a peace covenant for all those who are seeking electoral posts this May.

But he said that, in his observation, political rivals here engaged only in “word war” and not in bloody attacks.

Comendador also said that although the city’s south district showed the presence of intense political rivalry between Mayor Tomas Osmeña and Jonathan Guardo, who are both eyeing the congressional seat, both districts will be given equal security during the elections.

In Lapu-Lapu City, police will ensure peace and order in the city’s six churches beginning tomorrow until Saturday morning.

Acting City Police Director Mariano Natuel denied reports of the arrival of goons from Masbate who were hired by a mayoral candidate.

“There is no such (intelligence) report. And I am sure, we in the police are still on top of the situation. We have the capability to respond quickly,” he said.

The report was received by Liberal Party bets and was divulged to reporters in a press conference. (PDF/JTG/GC/AIV)