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MANILA, Philippines – More than a month before the campaign period for the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections (BSKE), the Commission on Elections (Comelec) issued a show cause order to hundreds of aspiring candidates.
To better address the issue of premature campaigning, the Comelec on Wednesday, September 13, launched the Task Force Kontra Epal.
Under Section 80 of the election code, premature campaigning is considered an election offense which may result in disqualification.
According to the task force chief and Comelec Eastern Visayas director Jose Nick Mendros, premature campaigning is an act “to promote the election or defeat of a particular candidate or candidates to a public office” before the official campaign period. This includes the following acts:
- Forming organizations, associations, clubs, committees or other groups of persons for the purpose of soliciting votes and/or undertaking any campaign for or against a candidate
- Holding political caucuses, conferences, meetings, rallies, parades, or other similar assemblies, for the purpose of soliciting votes and/or undertaking any campaign or propaganda for or against a candidate
- Making speeches, announcements or commentaries, or holding interviews for or against the election of any candidate for public office
- Publishing or distributing campaign literature or materials designed to support or oppose the election of any candidate
- Directly or indirectly soliciting votes, pledges or support for or against a candidate.
From the filing of the certificate of candidacy until October 18, which is the day before the start of the official BSKE campaign period, doing these acts are considered premature campaigning.
The public may file their complaint through the committee’s email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on the Comelec Task Force Against Premature Campaigning Facebook page.
The complainant must send the name of the candidate, the position the candidate is running for, the barangay, and the town. Menros also said that it would be ideal to provide the email address of the candidate.
These complaints may or may not be notarized. Notarized complaints will be immediately referred to the Comelec law department for docketing and it will proceed to the conduct of a preliminary investigation., Meanwhile, unnotarized complaints will be reviewed by the task force.
Menros also clarified that the public may still report violations of premature campaigning even during the campaign period or even after the elections since the prescription period for election offenses is five years.
During the press conference, the Comelec also warned the public about reporting false information to ruin the reputation of a candidate.
The poll body said those guilty of providing false information may face imprisonment of not more than six years, forfeiture of the right to vote, and perpetual disqualification to hold public office.
On Friday, September 8, the poll body also launched the Committee on Kontra Bigay to address vote-buying complaints. – Rappler.com