Comelec warns of premature campaigning

By: Morexette Marie B. Erram April 20,2018 - 11:08 PM

THE campaign period for the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections officially starts on May 4 but this early, posters and campaign materials with the faces of the candidates can be seen on walls and in public areas in Cebu City.

This prompted the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in Cebu City to urge aspirants to take them down with a warning, that they could be disqualified for premature campaigning.

Lawyer Anna Fleur Abelgas – Gujilde, Comelec – Cebu City South District Officer, also said candidates should instruct their supporters not to put up campaign posters, especially those clearly asking voters to choose them.

“It also depends on the nature of posters. If the intent to promote the candidate is clear, might as well remove them if they don’t want to be filed with premature campaigning. Because as of now, it is not allowed,” said Gujilde.

Elected officials found to have violated Section 80 of the Omnibus Election Code, which prohibits candidates doing any politically related activity except during the prescribed campaign period, could be disqualified.

Any registered voter can file a disqualification case.

Yesterday, Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña posted on his Facebook page that campaign posters of lawyer Remilio Delute have been plastered in public places. Delute is running for Punong Barangay in Basak – San Nicolas, in the south district of Cebu City.

Osmeña also accused Delute of concocting a “money-making scheme” by organizing vendors in some barangays in Cebu City.

But in a phone interview yesterday, Delute denied Osmeña’s accusations and even expressed confidence that he could not be held liable for premature campaigning, citing a court ruling in 2010.

Delute was referring to a decision of the Supreme Court (SC) reversing the disqualification by the Comelec of Rosalinda Peñera, the town mayor of Sta. Monica ,Surigao del Norte.

“There is no such thing as premature campaigning. You’re automatically a candidate once you file your COC. I already filed my COC, and that makes me a candidate,” he said.

The SC ruled that a “person who files his certificate of candidacy is already considered a candidate even before the start of the campaign period,” therefore rendering “premature campaigning” as lawful.

On the other hand, Delute assured that his campaign posters were plastered with permission from property owners.

Delute entered politics in the 1980s as a barangay councilor of Basak – San Nicolas. He was Osmeña’s legal counsel when the mayor ran in 2001, and became a consultant at the city’s legal office when Osmeña won.

He lost to George Rama, who was then barangay captain of Basak – San Nicolas in 2013 by 10,000 votes.

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