Comelec: Posting campaign banners not a poll violation at this point

By: Catherine Gonzales - Inquirer.net | February 24,2021 - 12:05 PM

Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez. INQUIRER.net file photo / RYAN LEAGOGO

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) finds no premature campaigning in the initiative of some people to put up campaign banners at this time, saying there are no official candidates yet for the May 2022 elections.

This was the reaction of Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez on Wednesday when asked if there is a violation of the Omnibus election code regarding the posting of campaign banners like the one bearing the phrase “Run, Sara, Run,” which evidently urging presidential daughter and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio to run in next year’s elections.

“Technically there is no violation because in order for premature campaigning to be committed there should be an official candidate, and no official candidate exists right now,” he said in an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel.

“In fact we are not even filing certificates of candidacy yet. So since there is no official candidate, there can be no crime or should we say offense of premature campaigning,” he added.

Filing of certificates of candidacy would start in October.

But despite saying that such promotion efforts are not illegal, Jimenez urged voters to reject politicians who are campaigning too early or are tolerating other people campaigning on their behalf even way before the prescribed period.

“I think people should reject candidates who are campaigning this early or who are tolerating other people campaigning in their name even if they have not yet filed their certificates of candidacy,” he said.

READ: Without permits secured, Cebu City to remove ‘Run Sara Run’ tarps

In Cebu City, Architect Florante Catalan, the city’s Building Official, said on Tuesday, February 23, that they will have to remove the “Run Sara Run” banners hanging on skywalks because they did not issue any permits for these to be placed anywhere in the city.

Jimenez said that encouraging politicians to run in the elections is a matter of free expression at this point. However, he added that doing so would mean “skewing” the playing field for election candidates.

“What we need for people to understand is that in doing this, people are skewing the playing field, you are putting a premium on the ability to go out and campaign this early, which means you have a bigger war chest, which means you have more money, which means that candidates with more resources are in a better position to win the elections,” the Comelec official said.

“Skewed ‘yung playing field [The playing field is skewed] because if you have the resources then you can do much anything you want right now without consequence, and that’s why there’s a huge loophole that has to be closed,” he added.

Under the Comelec’s calendar, the campaign period for national positions (president, vice president, senator and party-list groups) will be from February 8, 2022 to May 7, 2022.

Meanwhile, the campaign period for local positions (House of Representatives members, regional, provincial, city and municipal officers) will begin on March 25, 2022 until May 7, 2022.

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TAGS: Comelec, James Jimenez, not a poll violation at this point, posting of campaign banners

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