MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Tuesday, August 18, said it has junked its bid to extend the campaign period for the 2016 presidential elections.
In a media briefing, Comelec Commissioner Christian Lim explained that the poll body’s law department said the Comelec “cannot do that legally.”
Lim cited previous deliberations in Philippine Congress on Republic Act 8436, or the automated election system law signed in 1997.
Debates in Congress showed “that the Comelec does not have any authority to move the campaign period,” Lim said.
The Comelec earlier proposed extending the campaign period to prevent premature campaigning.
Several lawmakers opposed this because it could complicate their campaigns. (READ: CONVERSATION: What will a longer election campaign do?)
The Comelec’s initial plan was to set the first day of the campaign period to January 10, 2016, or 120 days before election day on May 9. The poll body initially wanted the campaign period to coincide with the election period.
The Comelec’s official calendar of activities, released on Tuesday, showed that the campaign period for national candidates runs from February 9 to May 7, 2016.
The campaign period for local candidates begins on March 25 and ends on May 7, 2016.
‘How about spirit of law?’
Philippine laws have allowed national candidates to campaign for 90 days and local bets for 45 days.
Lim earlier said extending the campaign period “is a move by the Comelec against premature campaigning by epal candidates,” or those hungry for publicity.
Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista explained, “We need a law to basically amend the current law so as to prohibit premature campaigning.”
Bautista stressed that the Comelec sees this “not as a legal but more as a moral question.”
“I think that our voters should take that into consideration when choosing whom they will vote for in 2016. If they believe that certain candidates are circumventing the spirit of the law, then they should not vote for these candidates,” the chairman said.
Bautista earlier pointed out that there “is a loophole in the law” because “only a candidate can be guilty of premature campaigning.”
He said: ”The letter of the law, they’re not violating. But how about the spirit of the law?” – Rappler.com
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