MANILA, Philippine – Politicians start early. It’s still a year to go before the 2013 elections, but netizens already see various forms of early campaigning — TV and radio ads of rumored senatorial candidates and the sudden proliferation of billboards and posters of local politicians.
Annoyed, Transparency and Accountability Network executive director Vincent Lazatin put up the “Anti-Epal” Facebook page for the public to share photos of what he calls a “malpractice.”
“This issue of campaigning before the election period is something that Pera’t Pulika has been very concerned with. And the public doesn’t like the idea of politicians putting their ads months before the political campaign period starts,” Lazatin told Rappler.
The Omnibus Election Code bans premature campaigning. But, in a widely criticized decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the law only applies when the politicians have filed their certificates of candidacies. It means that, legally, there is no violation.
“Prior to the start of the elections, you are not considered a candidate. Anything goes. Another one of those poor decisions coming from the Supreme Court,” Lazatin said.
Created two weeks ago, the Facebook page aims to shame the politicians and make them pull out their ads and posters.
“One day I saw a candidate’s poster and I said to myself it’s time citizens rein in their elected officials. They’ve run roughshod over our sense of decency for too long,” Lazatin said.
In the Senate, Sen Miriam Santiago had filed Senate Bill 1967 or the “Act Prohibiting Public Officers from Claiming Credit through Signage Announcing a Public Works Project.”
Santiago said it is “highly unethical” for public officers, whether elected or appointed to append their names to public works projects which were either funded or facilitated through their office.
Before the 2010 elections, Santiago also led a Senate committee hearing that criticized Cabinet officials — rumored to be running for national elective posts — for airing TV ads trumpeting their supposed accomplishments in their agencies. – Rappler.com