Comelec warns vs. early campaigning

DUMAGUETE CITY – The Commission on Elections has warned all local and national candidates against campaigning prematurely or before the allowed period under pain of disqualification after due process.

The Commission on Elections has decreed that the election period for the 2019 national and local polls, including the gun ban takes effect starting January 13, 2019 to June 12, 2019 pursuant to Resolution No. 10429.

Congressmen, governors, mayors and councilors running this May 13 elections will formally start campaigning on March 30 to May 11, 2019. That will be the whole month of April, two days in March and 11 days in May or a total of 33 days only.

The Comelec warned against circumvention of the law stating that if opposing candidates and parties will file protests it could hamper their own campaign. “So better toe the line,” the Comelec cautioned.

Any act which might tend to entice to influence the decision of the voters could be an electioneering act. But most candidates said that they will only start exposing themselves for information purposes , only after the New Year.

Comelec has promulgated the calendar of activities with the list of prohibited acts for strict compliance of the politicians, parties and their supporters to safeguard the integrity and credibility of the May 13, 2019 elections.

Prohibitions during election period include: alteration of territory of a precinct or establishment; transfer or movement of officers and employees in the civil service; bearing, carrying or transporting of firearms or other deadly weapons, unless authorized in writing by the commission; use of security personnel or bodyguards by candidates; organization or maintenance of reaction forces, strike and other similar forces and suspension of elective officials.

Meanwhile, campaign period (February 12, 2019 to May 13, 2019) for candidates for senator and party-list groups participating in the party-list system, however, campaigning on Holy Thursday (March 28) and Good Friday (March 29). The campaign period for candidates for Member House of Representatives and elective regional, provincial, city and municipal officials commences on practically on March 30 until May 11, 2019.

Additional prohibited acts during the campaign period for both national and local candidates are: giving donations or gift in cash or in kind, appointment or use of special policemen, confidential agents and the like; illegal release of prisoners; appointment or hiring of new employees, creation or filling up of new positions; promotion or giving of salary increases, remuneration or privilege. Construction of public works, delivery of materials for public works and issuance of treasury warrant or similar devises for a future undertaking chargeable against public funds and release, disbursement or expenditure of public funds.

Finally, other prohibited acts are imposed on May 12 to May 13, 2019 to include campaigning, selling, offering or buying of intoxicating liquor, giving, accepting, free transportation, food and drinks or things of value, soliciting votes or undertaking any propaganda for or against any candidate or any political party within the polling place or within 30 meters, opening of booths or stalls for the sale of merchandise or refreshments within a radius of 30 meters from the polling place, holding of cockfights, boxing and horse races.

Those found guilty of election offense shall be punished with imprisonment of not less than one year but not more than six years and not subject to probation.