#PHVote: Campaign rules for 2019 midterm elections

Michael Bueza
Here's a guide for voters and poll watchers on what candidates should follow during the campaign

MANILA, Philippines – Public places, media outlets, and social media are teeming with campaign ads of candidates for the May 13, 2019, national and local elections.

They are all bound by campaign rules, as set by the Commission on Elections (Comelec). These rules for the 2019 polls are stated in Comelec Resolution 10488, in line with the Fair Elections Act.

Here’s a guide for voters as well as poll watchers on what candidates should follow during the 2019 campaign period.


When is the election campaign period?

For national candidates, or those running for senator and party list, the campaign period is from February 12 to May 11. (READ: What to expect as the 2019 campaign period for national bets begins)

For local candidates, from House representatives to city and municipal councilors, they can campaign from March 29 to May 11.

Campaigning is not allowed on Maundy Thursday (April 18), Good Friday (April 19), the eve of election day (May 12), and on election day (May 13). 


How much can bets spend during the campaign period?

Candidates who belong to a political party can spend P3 per registered voter covered by the elective position they are running for.

Meanwhile, independent bets can spend P5 per voter. Political parties and party-list groups can also spend P5 per voter.


What campaign materials are allowed during the campaign period?

  • Pamphlets, leaflets, cards, decals, stickers, or similar materials (maximum width: 8 1/2 inches; maximum length: 14 inches)
  • Handwritten or printed letters campaigning for or against a candidate/party
  • Posters, whether framed or posted (maximum area: 2 feet by 3 feet)
  • Banners or streamers during public meetings or rallies which may only be displayed from 5 days before up to 24 hours after the rally (maximum area: 3 feet by 8 feet)
  • Social media posts, whether original or reposted, which may be incidental to the creator’s advocacies of social issues or is primarily endorsing a candidate
  • Mobile units, vehicles, or motorcades of all types
  • Paid ads in broadcast, internet, mobile, print, or outdoor media
  • Campaign materials (except banners or streamers) in headquarters and residences of candidates

Comelec encourages the use of recyclable and environment-friendly materials in campaign paraphernalia.


What must be included in campaign materials? 

All forms of campaign ads must contain the following information in readable or audible formats:

“Political advertisement paid for” 
(Candidate’s name, his/her address) 

“Political advertisement paid by” 
(Payor’s name, his/her address) 

Campaign ads donated or given free of charge must contain the information below. Free or donated ads must have written acceptance of the candidate/party.

“Printed free of charge by” 
(Donor’s name, his/her/its address)

“Airtime for this broadcast was provided free of charge by” 
(Donor’s name, his/her/its address) 


How much airtime are given to candidates?

National candidates and parties may air only a total of 120 minutes of TV ads per station and 180 minutes of radio ads per station.

Local candidates may air only a total of 60 minutes of TV ads per station and 90 minutes of radio ads per station.

In ads with multiple candidates, each bet will share the airtime and campaign expenditure based on their appearance on the ad. 


How big should campaign ads be in newspapers?

Each candidate or party can use up to 1/4 page in broadsheets and 1/2 page in tabloids.

In ads with multiple candidates, the size limit applies to each individual/party and the cost will be shared among them.

Print campaign ads can only be published up to 3 times a week per newspaper, magazine, or publication.


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What are the new Comelec campaign rules in social media?

Candidates and parties must register with the Comelec Education and Information Department the website name and the web address of their official social media page or blog. (READ: [OPINION] What are the limits of Comelec’s social media monitoring?)

Other social media pages or blogs directly or indirectly maintained by the candidate/party and are primarily endorsing a candidate will be considered additional official blogs/pages of the candidate.

In addition, paid social media associates or influencers are now considered contractors, and must report to Comelec the payments they received for posts campaigning for or against a candidate. 


Who can put up common poster areas and where?

Parties and independent candidates, at their expense, can install common poster areas, with the approval of the local Comelec office. Up to 32 party-list groups can also apply to install one shared common poster area.

One common poster area can be placed per 5,000 registered voters in a barangay. The maximum dimensions of poster areas for political parties are 12 feet by 16 feet (or an area of 192 square feet). For independent candidates, the size limit is 4 feet by 6 feet (or an area of 24 square feet).

It should be set up in conspicuous public places with the heaviest foot traffic like plazas, markets, and barangay centers. It cannot be placed in trees along public roads and plants in any public grounds. 

READ: [OPINION] Campaign posters: What’s illegal, what’s not? 


How should campaign ads be more PWD-friendly and gender-sensitive?

Sign language interpreters and closed captioning in campaign ads on TV and the Internet are now required. Comelec also encourages candidates to make printed campaign materials available in Braille.

Meanwhile, the poll body prohibits campaign ads that violate gender sensitivity, are obscene or offensive, or violate the Magna Carta of Women.


What campaign materials are not allowed during the campaign period? 

  • Any movie, documentary, concert, or performance about the life of a candidate played in theaters, TV, video sharing sites, social media network, or any public forum
  • Any broadcast program or sponsor manifestly campaigning for or against a candidate/party by unduly, repetitively, or unnecessary mentioning them
  • Any campaign ad outside authorized common poster areas, in public places, or in private properties without the consent of the owner 


Where are campaign ads prohibited?

There should be no campaign ads in these places:

  • Publicly-owned LED or LCD screens along highways and streets or on walls of public buildings, and other similar devices owned by the national or local government
  • Patrol cars, ambulances, or other motor vehicles owned by the national or local government
  • Public transport vehicles owned and controlled by government, such as the MRT, LRT, and PNR
  • Waiting sheds, sidewalks, street/lamp posts, electric posts/wires, traffic signs, and others on public property
  • Pedestrian overpasses and underpasses, flyovers, bridges, main roads, and center islands of roads
  • Schools, public shrines, barangay halls, government offices, health centers, and other public structures
  • Within the premises of public transport terminals owned and controlled by government


Where and how to report violations of campaign rules?

Voters and poll watchers may report these incidents to Comelec through the following methods:

  • Phone: (02) 525-9294 or (02) 525-9296
  • Email: talktocomelec@gmail.com
  • Online: Comelec’s Facebook and Twitter pages


When is the deadline to report campaign expenses for the 2019 polls?

All candidates and political parties, whether they won or lost, must file with the Comelec their Statement of Contributions and Expenses (SOCE) by June 12, 2019. – Rappler.com

Michael Bueza

Michael is a data curator under Rappler's Tech Team. He works on data about elections, governance, and the budget. He also follows the Philippine pro wrestling scene and the WWE. Michael is also part of the Laffler Talk podcast trio.