Elec­tion sea­son

Sun.Star Baguio - - Opinion -

THE fil­ing of the cer­tifi­cate of can­di­dacy (COC) for the May 2019 elec­tions is set to start to­day and go on un­til Wed­nes­day next week ex­clud­ing Satur­day and Sun­day. That means we are for­mally in an­other elec­tion sea­son that, based on past ex­pe­ri­ences, is noisy and hotly con­tested.

The fil­ing of the

COCs is sep­a­rate from the for­mal open­ing of the cam­paign sea­son. Af­ter this would be a lull be­fore all hell breaks loose, sort of, as can­di­dates run out of the start­ing gate.

Since the elec­tions are midterm, only one half of the 24 Se­nate posts are avail­able. Ev­ery post is open for the lo­cal polls, ex­cept for the barangays whose elec­tions are held sep­a­rately. The cam­paign pe­riod for the na­tional elec­tions is longer than that of the lo­cal polls be­cause of the dif­fer­ence in scope.

The elec­tion pe­riod opens on Jan. 13 next year and ends on June 12. The cam­paign pe­riod for sen­a­tors and party-list groups will start on Feb. 12 and will end on May 11. The cam­paign pe­riod for mem­bers of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives and pro­vin­cial, city and mu­nic­i­pal of­fi­cials will start a bit later, on March 30, and will end on May 11. Cam­paign­ing dur­ing Maundy Thurs­day and Good Fri­day is banned.

Not only can­di­dates should be fa­mil­iar with elec­tion rules. It helps for peo­ple to be con­scious also of th­ese rules so they can eas­ily spot vi­o­la­tions com­mit­ted. The rules lay down, for ex­am­ple, what are le­gal and what are pro­hib­ited elec­tion pro­pa­ganda and where elec­tion cam­paign ma­te­rial ma­te­ri­als could be posted and where th­ese are barred.

The 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion was un­prece­dented in its use of the so­cial me­dia not only as a tool for in­for­ma­tion but as a cam­paign weapon. By now, ne­ti­zens should be fa­mil­iar with how can­di­dates “weaponize” so­cial me­dia espe­cially through the spread of fake news and the use of trolls, bots and paid hacks to at­tack sup­port­ers of op­pos­ing can­di­dates and weaken their re­solve.

Elec­tions are im­por­tant in a rep­re­sen­ta­tive democ­racy like ours. An im­por­tant com­po­nent of the elec­toral process is the grant to the peo­ple of the right to choose their rep­re­sen­ta­tives in gov­ern­ment through their votes. Peo­ple need to value that vote by putting the right can­di­date into of­fice.

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