ELECTION SEASON OPENS
Several bans, including the use of security personnel and suspension of local elected officials, in effect Candidates for the May midterm elections have one more month to display campaign materials indiscriminately
It will still be a “free for all” for local candidates in terms of where to post and display their posters and campaign materials when the election period starts on Sunday, Jan. 13.
Cebu City North District Election Officer Marchel Sarno said candidates “can do whatever they want,” including where they hang or post their campaign materials, as the regulation on campaign materials has not started.
Sarno said the regulation will take effect at the start of the campaign period, which will be on Feb. 12.
He said the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has yet to designate a specific area.
Campaign posters and tarpaulins litter public walls and places, including trees, electrical posts, among others, during an election period despite the government’s prohibition.
Section 9 of Republic Act 9006, or the Fair Election Act, states that Comelec may authorize political parties and party-list groups to establish common poster areas for their candidates in not more than 10 public places, such as plazas, markets, barangay centers, among others, where candidates can post, display or exhibit election propaganda.
Poster areas, however, should not exceed 12-by-16-feet, or its equivalent.
Candidates may also post lawful propaganda material in private places provided that the owner gave his consent.
Independent candidates with no political parties may be authorized to build common poster areas in not more than 10 public places. Poster areas, however, should not be more than four-by-six-feet, or its equivalent.
Meanwhile, the ban on carrying, bearing and transporting firearms or other deadly weapons will start on Sunday. Exempted from the ban are those with a written exemption issued by the Comelec.
Also on Sunday, Comelec and the Philippine National Police will activate the joint security control center to ensure peace and order during the election period.
“We are ready and are closely coordinating with the police. On Sunday morning, we will kick off the election period with a unity walk from the Cebu Provincial Capitol to the Police Regional Office 7. We’ve invited all the candidates in Cebu as we aim to create a peace covenant,” Cebu Provincial Election Supervisor Lionel Marco Castillano said.
Promulgated last Oct. 1, Comelec Resolution 10429 provides the calendar of activities and periods of prohibited acts in connection with the May 13 national and local elections.
The use of security personnel or bodyguards by candidates, unless authorized in writing by the Comelec, is not allowed during the election period.
The organization of reaction or strike forces and the suspension of elective local officials are also not allowed.
Castillano, though, clarified that the Comelec will implement suspension orders against elective local officials if ordered by the ombudsman.
“There is a ban on suspension of local elective officials, but except for those who were found guilty of graft and corrupt practices by the ombudsman,” he said.
As for the campaign period, it will end on May 11.
Bets will be prohibited from campaigning during Holy Thursday (March 28) and Good Friday (March 29).
Candidates will not be allowed to give gifts in cash or in kind and appoint or use confidential agents or special police officers during this period.
From March 29 to May 12, the appointment or hiring of new employees, the creation or filling of new positions and the promotion or giving of salary increases are prohibited.
Other prohibited activities during this period include the construction of public works, delivery of materials for public works, issuance of treasury warrant and disbursement of public funds.
Candidates will be banned from campaigning abroad from April 13 to May 13.
On the eve of the election day, the selling, buying, serving and taking of intoxicating liquor will be prohibited along with the giving and accepting of free transportation, food or things of value.
On election day on May 13, campaigning, voting more than once or in substitution of another is prohibited.
Other prohibited activities during this day include soliciting votes or undertaking any propaganda for or against a candidate or political party, opening of booths or stalls for the sale of refreshment within a radius of 30 meters from the polling place, and the holding of fairs, cockfights, boxing or any other similar sports.