AN OFFICIAL of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said prospective candidates for the 2022 elections have the "moral obligation" to avoid campaigning before the official campaign period.
"People, who themselves have declared either through their words or actions their intention to stand for election next year, have a stricter moral obligation to refrain from premature campaigning and early campaign spending," Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said in a social media post.
He said "candidates" should police their ranks.
"(They must) not tolerate those who do that for them," said Jimenez.
Jimenez wrote the post as several politicians have started to come out with television commercials, while others have been doing provincial rounds in the guise of consultations and visits.
There are also individuals already rumored to be planning to run but are still supposedly being egged on by supporters to do so.
Jimenez said the voters must also realize that they have the power to stop premature campaigning by not voting for politicians engaged in such activities.
"They have simply learned that the easiest path to victory is by breaking the rules. We should, therefore, try our hardest to correct that notion, and stop rewarding them for bad behavior," said Jimenez.
Republic Act 9369, or the Poll Automation Law, provides that “any person who files his certificate of candidacy (COC) 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 Supreme Court in the 2009 case of Penera vs. Comelec, which paved the way for the removal of premature campaigning as an election offense. (HDT / SunStar Philippines)