Comelec says premature campaigning will be prohibited in 2025 midterm polls

James Patrick Cruz

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Comelec says premature campaigning will be prohibited in 2025 midterm polls

Commission on Elections officials, teachers and election personnel, conduct a mock election and final testing and sealing of the vote counting machines that will be utilized for the October 30 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections, at the Pasong Tamo Elementary School in Quezon City on October 25, 2023.

Jire Carreon/Rappler

Once candidates for the 2025 midterms file their candidacy papers, they can no longer engage in premature campaigning, says Comelec Chairman George Garcia

MANILA, Philippines – Premature campaigning rules will immediately apply to politicians once they file their certificates of candidacy (COC) for the 2025 midterm elections, Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman George Erwin Garcia said. 

“We will presume all those who will file their candidacies from October 1 to 8 as candidates already and therefore we will apply the premature campaigning [policies],” Garcia said during the third National Investigative Journalism Conference hosted by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism on Tuesday, April 30.

Under Section 80 of the Omnibus Election Code, a “candidate” is not allowed to campaign or engage in partisan political activity outside of the campaign period. Violators may face potential disqualification from the elections and imprisonment.

However, in the landmark Peñera vs Comelec ruling in 2009, the Supreme Court said that an elective aspirant who filed their COC is only considered a “candidate” once the official campaign period starts.

Based on the 38-year-old election code, the campaign period for national and local candidates only starts 90 and 45 days respectively before election day.

Given this policy, the campaign period for national posts only starts in February 2025, creating a four-month gap from the COC filing period.

This gap has presented a legal loophole, allowing candidates through the years to engage in early campaigns without facing election offenses.

“For the longest time, from October to January, that’s when our candidates really go all out, spending their resources. That’s where the gap between the wealthy and the less fortunate candidates widens,” Lente executive director Rona Ann Caritos said.

This is not the first time the poll body under Garcia’s leadership enforced its premature campaign policy. 

For the 2023 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections (BSKE), the Comelec implemented the ban, issuing show cause orders to 7,500 candidates due to early campaigning.

Among them, 253 winning candidates weren’t proclaimed while their cases were pending.

The Garcia-led Comelec justified the premature campaign policy by saying that the Peñera doctrine only applies to automated elections, not manual polls like the BSKE.

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Will the same argument hold up for the 2025 midterms, which will be automated? How will Garcia address possible legal issues?

It is unclear, but Garcia challenged potential critics to knock on the Supreme Court’s doors instead.

“If they want to go to the Supreme Court [to question this policy] and so be it,” he said. – with reports from Dwight De Leon and Jodesz Gavilan /

1 comment

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  1. ET

    Really? Will COMELEC Chairman George Erwin Garcia stand up to such a policy? Let us wait and see.

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James Patrick Cruz

Patrick Cruz is a researcher and writer for Rappler’s governance cluster. Before transferring to Rappler's Research team, he covered local governments focusing on Metro Manila.