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