Philippine News Agency : Voters told to shun politicians engaged in premature campaigning

29 June 2021

By Ferdinand Patinio | Philippine News Agency

MANILA – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) and election stakeholders on Tuesday urged the electorate not to support politicians engaged in premature campaigning.

“Don’t vote for them. Don't reward bad behavior. We don’t have a shortage of good candidates. There are candidates who follow the rules,” Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said in a forum.

Based on Comelec’s calendar of activities for the May 9, 2022 elections, the period for filing of certificates of candidacy (COCs) will be held from Oct. 1 to 8 this year.

“Make sure that we will choose those who are not vitiating the rules while the race is not yet on. Make sure to apply that same standard whether you are with or you like the candidate,” Jimenez said.

Eric Alvia, Secretary General of the National Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel), supported the call of the Comelec.

“We should not reward bad behavior. This is already a portent of things to come. If now, a particular candidate taking advantage, what more if he’s public office, where there are a lot of temptation. We can already see a glimpse of this kind of leadership or kind of integrity this person has,” he said.

Alvia said many electoral reforms are needed to lessen election violations but Congress has not acted on it.

“A lot of electoral reforms that have to be done are with Congress. But they don't act on it because they are beneficiaries to the established laws,” he said.

He said one of the reforms is the strict submission of the statements of contributions and expenditures (SOCEs).

“Comelec can probably strengthen or strictly enforce the SOCE submission by asking candidates to file statement that they have not spent six months or a year before Certificate of Candidacy (COC) filing on election related matters. When they file for their SOCE, they should do it periodically until end of election period. So the people can tract them as well,” he said.

Brizza Rosales, project director of Legal Network for Truthful Elections (LENTE), said it is always part of their campaign not to support candidates who are not following the rules.

“People should not support those who violate even as the campaign period has not started yet. It is always our campaign not to support or not to vote for such candidates,” she said.

She said premature campaigning “will always transcend to transparency and governance.”

Rosales said what the people can do is to document and to support different initiatives such as capturing premature campaigning.

“At the same time, we can always support the institutionalization of what we want. What we can do is support the pending bills that can restore the candidate's definition,” she added.

The campaign period for candidates for national positions is set to begin on February 8 until May 7, 2022 or 90 days before the polls.

Those who are running for local positions have 45 days to campaign which will start on March 25 until May 7, 2022. (PNA)