Premature campaigning ban for NLE 2025 to include celebrities

MANILA. Comelec Chairman George Garcia.
MANILA. Comelec Chairman George Garcia.PNP photo

THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) said Friday, March 22, 2024, that celebrities-turned-politicians appearing on television, films, and social media will not be given exemptions when the poll body enforces the ban on premature campaigning for the May 2025 midterm polls.

In a press briefing, Comelec Chairman George Garcia said they will also enforce the ban on premature campaigning to those usually seen on televisions and other forms of media who have decided to run in the next elections.

"The Comelec will stand firm that those who will file their Certificates of Candidacy (COC) this October will immediately be considered as candidates. Whatever are the prohibitions, it will be applicable to all," said Garcia.

"We will presume all those, who filed their COCs, as engaged in premature campaigning when it's done prior to the campaign period," he added.

Earlier this March, the Comelec announced its plans to enforce anew the ban on premature campaigning for the May 2025 midterm polls.

Garcia said this is because they would not want the Comelec to be left inutile after the filing of COCs but will only be considered candidates during the campaign period several months later.

"When they file their COC in October until February come the start of the campaign period, we cannot remove campaign materials or prevent them from going around and distribute items since they aren't candidates yet. The Comelec is rendered inutile in that scenario," said Garcia.

Asked if they are confident that they will not be questioned before the Supreme Court (SC), the former poll lawyer said they are optimistic it will be similar to the 2023 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE) experience.

"When we imposed it during the BSKE, nobody went to the SC to question the Comelec. Hopefully, with the support of the people, nobody will question us," said Garcia.

Under the Poll Automation Law, “any person who files his certificate of candidacy 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 the start of the campaign period.”

This provision was affirmed by the 2009 Supreme Court case of Peñera vs Comelec, which paved the way for the removal of premature campaigning as an election offense.

This led to the Comelec being rendered powerless due to the removal of premature campaigning as an election offense in recent electoral exercises.

But in the 2023 BSKE, the poll body implemented the ban, saying the rule only applies to electoral exercises using the automated election system. (HDT/SunStar Philippines)


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