Premature campaigning not a poll offense: Comelec

MANILA The Commission on Elections (Comelec) said premature campaigning for the May 14 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) polls is not an offense.

According to Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon, the commission en banc has decided that the absence of a law against premature campaigning also applies during manual polls.

@COMELEC En Banc resolved today: premature campaigning is not an election offense in manual elections, such as barangay election, or automated elections, she said in her Twitter account, @commrguanzon, Tuesday.

The poll body official explained that they have agreed that the Supreme Court ruling on the PeAera vs. Comelec case in 2009 covered both types of electoral process.

There is no distinction between a manual election and automated election, she added.

Guanzon said the clarification was issued based on the proposal of their law department.

Under Republic Act No. 9369, any person, who files his certificate of candidacy, shall only be considered as a candidate at the start of the campaign period; and that unlawful acts applicable to a candidate shall take effect only upon the start of the campaign period.

Meanwhile, the Legal Network for Truthful Elections (LENTE) urged those who are running in the village and youth polls to wait for the official start of the campaign period on May 4.

Even though premature campaigning is no longer illegal, they should not take advantage of this fact. A candidate doing so shows (he) is not deserving to be elected by the people, said LENTE executive director Rona Ann Caritos in an interview.

She added that voters should support candidates who follow moral standards, aside from legal guidelines.

The voters (must) take note of these candidates doing premature campaigning. They should not vote for these candidates, Caritos said.

The campaign period ends on May 12.

Source: Philippine News Agency