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Comelec reminds candidates to observe airtime limits to avoid election offense

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Tuesday, 12 February 2019 10:58 AM

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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PNP warns dismissal against ‘moonlighting’ cops

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Thursday, 14 February 2019 02:40 PM

QUEZON CITY, Philippines – Cops illegally escorting politicians will face charges from the Philippine National Police (PNP) Internal Affairs Service (IAS).

Based on PNP and Comelec policies, a politician is entitled to two police escorts only, so as not to be suspected of having a private army that can sow terror among the public and rival candidates.

“To give color na wala silang PAGs (private armed groups) ay mga pulis ang kanilang ginagamit. Kapag mag-request ka ay dalawa lang,” PNP-IAS Inspector General Atty. Alfegar Triambulo said.

“(Mayroon) hihingi itong kandidato sa isang munisipyo sa mayor ng dalawa. (Tapos) hihingi pa sa ibang munisipyo ng dalawa. Iyong isa naming namonitor ay 16 lampas pa ang lagi niyang kasama kahit siya’y namamalengke. So meron pa rin syang private armed group na puro naman mga pulis,” he added.

In line with this, Triambulo said they are conducting spot inspections in different regions across the country especially in areas with intense political rivalry and rampant vote buying.

“So para maging neutral at non-partisan ang ating mga kapulisan, kami’y naglulunsad ngayon ng intelligence activities at conduct ng spot inspection na ang pulis ay nasa kanilang mga unit nagbabantay,” the official said.

Triambulo warned police who will be caught ‘moonlighting’ and practicing partisan politics may be dismissed from service.

“Kapag ikaw ay naging bodyguard ng isang pulitiko na hindi otorisado, ito po ay grave misconduct,” he stressed.

“Ang kaparusahan niyan ay dismissal from the service,” he warned.

Since the start of the campaign period, a total of 16 cops in Region 9 or Zamboanga Peninsula have been relieved due to ‘moonlighting’.

According to Triambulo, the said cops were caught illegally servicing the mayor of Sindangan in Zamboanga del Norte.

It was earlier revealed by Police Regional Office 9 Director PCSupt. Emmanuel Licup that it was not the first time that he relieved the chief of police and some members of the Sindangan Police Office over to repeated moonlighting cases. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Lea Ylagan)

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Daraga Mayor Baldo remains suspended despite release – Comelec

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Thursday, 14 February 2019 09:45 AM

Daraga town Mayor Carlwyn Baldo

ALBAY, Philippines – Suspended Daraga Mayor Carlwyn Baldo was temporarily released from detention after posting bail on Wednesday (February 13).

According to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) Regional Office 5, Baldo cannot return to office as his preventive suspension remains in effect.

Comelec Region 5 assistant regional election director, Atty. Romeo Serrano said agencies involved in the special task force need to convene first and discuss whether or not they would allow Baldo to return as mayor of Daraga especially that it is now under Comelec control following a series of crimes against local executives in the city,

“Hangga’t hindi pa sila nag-convene, whatever is allowed under the government code, kung sabihin ng DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government ) na comply with this verse and kung ano ang requirements for re-assumptions under the code,” said Serrano.

Baldo has been released after posting bail amounting to P3 million cash and P4 million worth of property bond for his case of illegal possession of firearms and explosives as ordered by Judge Maria Theresa San Juan Loquillano of Legazpi City Regional Trial Court Branch 10. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Allan Manansala)

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Comelec warns candidates: Paid social media commenters count

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Wednesday, 13 February 2019 05:30 PM

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Election (Comelec) is faced with the huge task of monitoring campaign spending, even more so with the rise of social media as the most popular medium for candidates to widen their reach.

In its Resolution 10488, Comelec has included rules on the use of social media as instrument for campaign.

According to Comelec Spokesperson Director James Jimenez, the poll body has required all candidates and political parties to submit the uniform resource locator (URL) of their official pages for the Comelec to monitor their social media activities.

These include the website name and address, whether its an official blog site or social media page.

“Kung ano iyong official outlets nila online ay kailangan i-inform nila kami. Hindi natin mino-monitor ang volume ng labas nila. Ang mino-monitor natin ay ang cost ng content,” Jimenez said on Tuesday (February 12).

“Halimbawa, you have a thousand followers. You can boost it to more than 50,000 by spending some money. Iyon ang tina-track natin na expense. Because we know what their URLs are, alam natin kung saan natin hahanapin iyong mga campaign materials nila,” he added.

The poll body created a specific group of personnel who will focus on tracking down the candidates’ online bloggers and social media influencers to lead them to the candidates and make sure that no one will be able to escape the rules.

“Iisa naman ang template nila so hanapin mo iyong source. Huwag tayong ma-obsess sa mga galamay. Doon tayo sa pinanggalingan, iyon ang hahabulin namin,” Director Jimenez said.

Jimenez emphasized, however, that hiring social media associates or commenters must be reported to the poll body.

“Kapag nalaman (namin) na mayroon kang social media associates o gumagamit ka ng paid social media commenters, that would be included in your cost. Kasama iyan sa cost na kailangan mong ireport na ikaw ay naghire ng mga personnel for the campaign para ang trabaho lamang ay to influence a discourse,” the Comelec Spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, the poll body clarified that they do not count any post from a person that may benefit a candidate specifically those which cannot be considered as high value promotions.

“Mostly pasok iyan sa free expression,” Jimenez explained.

“You can literally post 24 hours a day and it will not make a difference. The only thing is kapag nag-promote ka ng post mo or naglabas ka ng content na medyo high value, high quality ay kailangan mong i-report. Iyon lang naman ang nire-regulate natin,” he added.

An election law expert said candidates should abide by the Comelec rules being the government body authorized to conduct and ensure a peaceful and orderly elections.

Atty. George Erwin Garcia noted, however, that the only thing questionable would be if the Comelec is doing a legislative function when it should only be executing the law.

“These will be issues which will be raised definitely in the Supreme Court. The Comelec can always interpret the law kung saan nila gustong i-interpret simply because under the Constitution, the Comelec is there to implement and supervise the conduct of the election,” Garcia concluded. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

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