MANILA — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) urges poll watchdog and civil society groups to join in its fight against premature campaigning.
Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista is hoping that these groups will be more involved against early publicities of those who are looking to participate in next year’s national and local elections.
“The well-meaning civil society organizations should come out and say ‘ito yong mga type o ginagawa ng mga kandidato’, ‘dapat ba silang iboto?’” he said in a weekly-forum in Manila on Monday.
With this, Bautista is convinced that citizens’ organizations have the ability to influence the public on how to choose their candidates.
“Dapat yung mga botante, the church groups, watchdogs saying these are the kind of candidates. You know (the effect), if you elect,” he added.
The poll body chief noted that the moral aspect should be the focus against premature campaigning.
“In the end, dapat, to me, more than legal, it’s a moral question. Kumbaga, the letter of the law, they are not violating. But how about the spirit of the law?” Bautista added.
Republic Act 9369 states, “any person who files his certificate of candidacy (COC) shall only be considered as a candidate at the start of the campaign period” and that “unlawful acts applicable to a candidate shall be in effect only upon that start of the campaign period”.
In 2009, the provision was affirmed by Supreme Court case of Penera vs. Comelec, which paved the way for the removal of premature campaigning as an election offense.