THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Saturday, June 26, 2021, advised voters to shun politicians who have been prematurely campaigning for the May 2022 national and local elections.
In a social media post, Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said the poll body is powerless against premature campaigning.
"There is something you can do: Vote for someone else," Jimenez addressed voters.
"We can’t do anything about it unless Congress changes the law. So let us make use of our votes... if you want anything to change," said Jimenez.
Jimenez said propaganda materials aimed at promoting a particular individual ahead of the campaign season can be considered premature campaigning.
"Even if there are no words 'vote for' whoever - as long as its effect is to increase the chances of one getting elected, that is considered campaign propaganda material," said Jimenez.
Republic Act 9369, or the Poll Automation Law, provides that “any person who files his certificate of candidacy (COC) shall only be considered as a candidate at the start of the campaign period” and that “unlawful acts applicable to a candidate shall be in effect only upon that start of the campaign period.”
This provision was affirmed by the 2009 Supreme Court case of Penera vs. Comelec, which paved the way for the removal of premature campaigning as an election offense.
Among politicians with advertisements on television are Taguig-Pateros Representative Alan Peter Cayetano and Department of Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar.
Those with increased presence on social media are Senator Sherwin Gatchalian and former senator Antonio Trillanes IV, while gatherings have been organized for Senator Christopher Go.
Tarpaulin banners urging Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte are also being posted in key areas across the country. (HDT / SunStar Philippines)