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Ahead of 2019 polls, Robredo backs bill vs premature campaigning

Mara Cepeda
'Ang pagpigil muli sa maagang pangangampanya ay kailangan para maging mas patas ang pagtakbo,' says Vice President Leni Robredo

LEVEL PLAYING FIELD. Vice President Leni Robredo says a law that criminalizes premature campaigning would create a level laying field among candidates. Photo from OVP

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo on Wednesday, November 7, urged lawmakers to pass a bill that would penalize premature campaigning.  

The Vice President, who is endorsing the candidacies of 8 senatorial hopefuls from the Oposisyon Koalisyon, said such a law would give all candidates a “fair” chance at winning.

Ang pagpigil muli sa maagang pangangampanya ay kailangan para maging mas patas ang pagtakbo. Nanawagan ako sa ating Kongreso na dinggin ang panawagan ng Comelec (Commission on Elections), at muling ibalik ang batas laban sa maagang pangangampanya,” said Robredo. 

(The prohibition against premature campaigning is needed to level the playing field. I am urging Congress to listen to the call of Comelec and restore the law against early campaigning.) 

On November 3, Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez urged Congress to “please pass that #prematurecampaigning amendment.”

“Premature campaigning happens on all sides. Difference is in how ‘big’ the politicians go, how often they do it, and how much propaganda materials – like posters and tvcs (television commercials) etc – they churn out,” Jimenez said on Twitter.

{source}<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Premature campaigning happens on all sides. difference is in how “big” the politicians go, how often they do it, and how much propaganda materials – like posters and tvcs etc – they churn out. <br><br>Dear Congress, please pass that <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/prematurecampaigning?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#prematurecampaigning</a> amendment na. <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/NLE2019?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#NLE2019</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/VoterEd?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#VoterEd</a></p>&mdash; James Jimenez (@jabjimenez) <a href=”https://twitter.com/jabjimenez/status/1058486003890053126?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>November 2, 2018</a></blockquote>

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“Bottom line, however, mali ang premature campaigning – kahit sino pa gumagawa. Parang bouncing check lang ‘yan. Alam mo maling magpatalbog ng cheke, pero walang kulong ‘pag ginawa mo. Mali pa rin,” he added.

(Bottom line, however, is that premature campaigning is wrong – regardless of who did it. It’s like a bouncing check. If you know that it is wrong to issue a bouncing check, yet you know you will not go to jail when you do it, the act is still wrong.)

{source}<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”tl” dir=”ltr”>Bottom line, however, mali ang premature campaigning – kahit sino pa gumagawa. Parang bouncing check lang yan. Alam mo maling magpatalbog ng cheke, pero walang kulong pag ginawa mo. Mali pa rin. <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/VoterEd?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#VoterEd</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/prematurecampaigning?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#prematurecampaigning</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/NLE2019?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#NLE2019</a></p>&mdash; James Jimenez (@jabjimenez) <a href=”https://twitter.com/jabjimenez/status/1058540012894076929?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>November 3, 2018</a></blockquote>

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While premature campaigning is an election offense, the Supreme Court (SC) decriminalized it in 2009, citing the provision in Republic Act No. 9369 that “a candidate is liable for election offenses only upon the start of the campaign period.” This precedent thus made it impossible under the law to commit premature campaigning.

Senate Bill No. 2064 seeks to supersede this SC ruling and prohibit premature campaigning once again.

SB 2064 was already approved by the Senate committee on electoral reforms. The House version is pending before the committee on suffrage and electoral reforms.

‘Upper hand’ for richer hopefuls

Several aspirants for the 2019 polls have already begun airing advertisements and putting up posters around the country, even if the official campaign period will only begin on February 12, 2019, for national positions and in late March for local positions.

Robredo said hopefuls with more resources can spend more for their campaign without having to declare these expenses in their Statements of Contributions and Expenses after the 2019 polls. 

At magmula dito, lalong naging magastos ang pagtakbo. Nakalalamang din ang mga kandidatong kayang gumastos ng malaki para sa kampanya, lalo na’t hindi nababantayan ng Comelec ang gastos bago magsimula ang opisyal na kampanya, 90-araw bago ang eleksyon,” she added. 

(From here, running for office becomes more expensive. The candidates who can spend more get the upper hand, especially because the Comelec will not be able to monitor their expenses before the start of the official campaign period, which is 90 days before election day). – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.