MANILA – The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) had been authoritative to the electorial candidates’ premature and excessive campaigning—especially that after February 12, the beginning of campaign period.
COMELEC spokesperson James Jimenez said they are set to resurrect “Operation Baklas”, which is aimed at dismantling illegal posters and tarpaulins as the campaign period starts next week.
“We will be talking to the DPWH (Department of Public Works and Highways) and MMDA (Metropolitan Manila Development Authority) in the coming days regarding Operation Baklas,” he said.
The poll body official said that they are already on the move in notifyIng the national aspirants. Jimenez has said that, they are already sending letters to both aspirants and political groups, urging them to put down the campaign materials.
“We don't expect them to reply to us written but we do expect to see compliance by February 12,” Jimenez said.
For the senatorial posts, 62 candidates are up for the hot elections, while 134 groups are vying for party-list seats in the House of Representatives.
The COMELEC official reiterated that posters and tarpaulins with a maximum size of 2 feet by 3 feet or 3 feet by 2 feet, depending on their chosen orientation, should only be posted or placed in campaign areas.
Jimenez warned that the candidate or the political group will be held accountable for their erroneous acts.
“If they say that they were not the ones who posted the tarpaulin—it doesn’t matter because if they knew that the materials are in violation of the election law and they just ignored it, did not do something about it and since they benefitted from the said material, they will be held responsible. So (they) might as well put these posters down,” he said.
On the other hand, Jimenez pointed out to the LEAGUE Online News the difference of premature and excessive campaigning. As lately, it had become a buzz the release of the film biopic of former Philippine National Police Director General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, and the popular Saturday drama based on real life, Maalaala Mo Kaya episode, showcasing the life of Bong Go. Both the portrayed are senatorial aspirants.
According to the COMELEC spokesperson, premature campaigning is not punishable by law, and candidates have the luxury of time to show their audio-visual advertisements as film or TV episode. However, he said that if come after the start of the campaign period, all materials shown are to be considered ‘prohibited campaign propaganda.’ He cited that whether the aspirant is portrayed or will portray another role, it is considered as a propaganda when the campaign period begins.
The COMELEC noted that any violation of election laws constitute an offense punishable under the Omnibus Election Code in addition to administrative liability.
Meanwhile, the 45-day campaign period for local positions will begin on March 29.