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Comelec reminds candidates to observe airtime limits to avoid election offense

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Tuesday, February 12th, 2019

QUEZON CITY, Philippines – National candidates for the 2019 midterm elections have started their campaign trails as the official campaign period kicks off Tuesday (February 12).

With this, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has reminded candidates to observe proper campaign rules to avoid committing an election offense.

In an interview with Daniel Razon on UNTV’s Digital Interactive Broadcast on Tuesday, Comelec Spokesperson Director James Jimenez emphasized that the poll body will be strictly monitoring campaign ads on televesion, radio, print and even on social media.

Jimenez reminded candidates to be careful in gracing requests for appearance as they might fall into political advertising which can be counted against them.

Under Comelec Resolution 10488 in line with R.A. 9006 or the Fair Elections Act, candidates and registered political parties running for national elective position are given “not more than a total of 120 minutes of television advertising and 180 minutes of radio advertising.”

Candidates for local elective positions, meanwhile, are given “not more than 60 minutes of television advertising and 90 minutes of radio advertising”.

“Ang problema, nagagamit ang mga interviews, mga guesting para kunwari hindi siya ad. Kunwari interview nga siya o guest spot siya. There are cases na pwedeng ituring na parang advertising din iyon. Pangkaraniwan, ang pinakabroad na generalization natin dito is that it’s non-news,” Jimenez explained.

Jimenez clarified that interviews for news purposes are not considered campaigning.

However, the case is different for ‘non-news’ event.

“Halimbawa, may mahalagang event na relevenat naman sa kandidato, tapos na-interview siya tungkol doon, pwede kasing news event iyon. May sunog sa area niya, i-interview siya, hindi magiging isyu iyon,” he said.

“Pero kapag halimbawa niyaya siya sa isang variety show, that’s not a news event. Ituturing iyon na broadcast advertising. So iyong time na inilagi niya sa oras na iyon ay maaring maibawas sa kaniyang time limit,” he added.

The Comelec Spokesperson also enlightened the viewers how candidates’ appearances on television would fall to voters’ education and not an election offense.

Such is the case with UNTV’s invitation of election hopefuls in its program Get It Straight with Daniel Razon – a current affairs-talk show-reality show which provides a platform for controversial personalities such as election candidates to discuss relevant issues concerning them.

“The fact na iniimbita mo lahat, that means parang voter education iyan. That’s how I understand your goal to be. For the most part, hindi iyan maka-count,” Director Jimenez explained as he talked to Razon via Facetime.

“Ang nagkakaproblema lamang ay ang mga gumagawa niyan at ang iniimbita lamang ay ang mga kandidatong gusto lang nila. Nagkakaroon sila ng pagpili kung sino ang iimbitahan nila, sino ang kakausapin nila, iyon medyo malabo iyon. Kapag iniimbita naman lahat, it doesn’t really matter kung di dumarating lahat. Ang importante, inimbita lahat,” he clarified.

 Prior to the start of official campaign, the poll body reminded all national candidates to take down campaign materials especially those hoisted or posted in unauthorized locations or non-common poster areas.

The poll body clarified, however, that the ‘Oplan Baklas’ at this point covers only national candidates because the campaign period for local candidates will begin on March 29.

“Kailangan idistinguish natin ang mga posters kung iyan ay for local candidates lang, hindi pa natin magagalaw iyan kasi sa March 29 pa ang start ng local campaign for them. Literally, okay pang andun yan,” Jimenez noted.

The Comelec spokesperson stressed that sanctions will be given to national candidates who will not heed the poll body’s policy of taking down illegal campaign materials.

“Kung national candidate yan, i-do-document natin. After three days, kung andyan pa, li-litratuhan natin to make sure na alam natin. We will document the materials that are still in place and then doon natin sila ngayon pepenahan . After that, once we are able to document, puwede na nating baklasin,” he concluded. – Marje Pelayo  

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Earthquake and other calamities might cause failure of elections—Comelec

by Aileen Cerrudo   |   Posted on Thursday, April 25th, 2019

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) said failure of elections can be declared during an earthquake or other calamities.

Comelec Spokesperson Director James Jimenez said violence, terrorism, and cheating will also cause a failure of elections.

“Halimbawa walang balota, walang election obviously because elections cannot be held at all. Man-made problems, violence, people not showing up for instance or supplies not being delivered. Kapag hindi ka makapagsagawa ng halalan magkakaroon ka ng failure of elections (For example, there are no ballots. There will be no elections obviously, because elections cannot be held at all. Failure of elections will be declared),” he said.

Elections will also be suspended if the lives of voters will be put at risk.

“When there is a natural calamity such that the voting facilities or the polling places are damaged or are unsafe to use. Iyon magkakaroon ng failure of elections iyan (There will be failure of elections),” Jimenez adds.

However, Comelec clarified that failure of elections needs to undergo due process unless it is absolutely necessary to declare it.

Jimenez said that an election office will have to recommend it to Comelec and Comelec En banc will decide if they will declare a failure of elections.

“Hindi iyan automatic, hindi iyan madadaan sa buyo o madadaan sa ingay ng parties(That is not automatic. It cannot be declared just because a party demands it),” he said.

He also clarified that power outage is not a common reason to declare failure of elections because the Vote Counting Machines (VCM) that will be used have batteries.

There are also generator sets in polling areas in the country.

Comelec Field Officials are currently coordinating with power providers and power distributors to ensure there will be no power outage during elections.—Aileen Cerrudo (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

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Overseas absentee voting kicks off April 13

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Saturday, April 13th, 2019

An overseas Filipino worker (OFW) in Dubai participates in 2013 Philippine elections through overseas absentee voting (OAV). (Lonix Foto Grafix | PVI)

MANILA, Philippines – The month-long overseas absentee voting (OAV) has begun today, April 13.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) Office for Overseas Voting (OFOV) said there are a total of 1,822,173 overseas voters for this election. Majority of this voters are land-based workers totaling 1,779,140 while 43,033 are sea-based workers.

In photos taken by UNTV News and Rescue team in Singapore (correspondent Queenie Ballon), some of the registered Filipino voters there have lined up early at the Philippine Embassy to cast their votes.

Overseas Filipino worker Bobby Catolos, who has been working in Singapore for 20 years now, said he makes it a point to consistently exercise his right to suffrage since 2007.

In Hongkong, the UNTV News and Rescue team (correspondent Ferdie Petalio) reported that Filipinos there also went to cast their votes early despite the inclement weather.

Comelec-OFOV said most of the registered voters are in the Middle East and African region followed by the Asia Pacific, North and Latin America and European region.

However, there will be no OAV in three areas—Damascus in Syria, Tripoli in Libya and Baghdad in Iraq—due to the ongoing tensions there.

READ: DFA raises alert level 3 in Libya

Comelec said that of the 83 countries or Philippine posts, 41 will use vote counting machines (VCM), while Filipinos abroad within the jurisdictions of the remaining 42 areas will use the manual system of voting, either personal or through postal.

The 41 posts that will use VCMs include Agana, Brunei, Calgary, Chicago, Canberra, Honolulu, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Los Angeles, Macau, New York, Ottawa, San Francisco, Toronto, Vancouver, Washington, Kaohsiung, Taichung, Taipei, Osaka, Seoul, Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo, Wellington, Athens, London, Madrid, Rome, Milan, Beirut, Abu Dhabu, Kuwait, Manama, Doha, Dubai, Jeddah, Muscat, AL-Khobar, Riyadh and Tel Aviv.

The 42 countries that will use postal voting are Buenos Aires, Brasilia, Bangkok, Beijing, Chongqing, Guangzho, Hanoi, Islamad, Mexico, Santiago, Port Moresby, Yangon, Ankara, Berne, Budapes, Berline, Brussels, Budapest, Lusbon, Moscow, Geneva, Oslo, Paris, The Hague, Vienna, Warsaw, Prague, Cairo, Pretoria and Abuja.

Personal voting will be used in Jakarta, Dhaka, Dili, Manado, New Delhi, Phnom Penh, Vientiane, Xiamen, Shanghai, Vatican, Amman, Tehran and Nairobi.

Comelec-OFOV hopes for higher voter turnout this election than the 16 percent recorded in 2007 and 2013 polls.

The overseas absentee voting will last until May 13. – Robie de Guzman

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Comelec spox calls on politicians to spare dogs from politicking

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Tuesday, April 9th, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – A photo of a dog with a campaign sticker on its body has gone viral on social media.

No less than Commission on Election (Comelec) Spokesperson Director James Jimenez posted the image on his Twitter account with the caption:

“Seriously. Isn’t it enough that politicking has already trashed the country you claim to love, you’ve got to harass dogs too?”

Netizens condemned what they claim as animal cruelty or a form of political gimmickry.

Jimenez did not mention any violation that corresponds the act but at the end of the caption, he called on the public to “Leave.Dogs.Alone.” – Marje Pelayo

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