By Leslie Ann Aquino
Even before the campaign period for the 2019 elections officially starts, nearly all those who filed their certificates of candidacy (COC), especially those running for national posts, are now engaging in premature campaigning.
“Nearly all major senatorial candidates openly campaigning now – taking full advantage of the premature campaigning loophole,” Commission on Elections (Comelec) spokesman James Jimenez said in his Twitter account @jabjimenez.
But the Comelec is helpless.
Jimenez admitted that the Comelec cannot do anything to stop would-be candidates from engaging in premature campaigning.
Under Republic Act 9369, Section 13… “Any person who files his certificate of candidacy within this period shall only be considered as a candidate at the start of the campaign period for which he filed his certificate of candidacy: Provided, that, unlawful acts or omissions applicable to a candidate shall effect only upon that start of the aforesaid campaign period…” Section 13 of RA 9369 amended Section 11 of RA 8436.
For the 2019 mid-term elections, the campaign period for those running for national posts is from February 12, 2019 to May 11, 2019. For local positions, the campaign period is from March 29, 2019 to May 11, 2019.
“It is very clear that the acts you can prohibit of a candidate, you can only prohibit at the start of the campaign period. Unless the campaign period starts, everyone gets to do whatever they want,” Jimenez said.
With this loophole in the law, Jimenez could only appeal for the aspirants’ sense of delicadeza.
“We appeal to the candidates themselves: Right now, it’s a question of delicadeza. We really appeal to them to see it that way,” said Jimenez.