By Leslie Aquino
The campaign period for those running for senator and party-list group representatives officially begins today, February 12, 2019.
With the campaign period in effect, candidates may now be held liable for violation of election laws.
It was noted that shortly after the deadline for the filing of certificates of candidacy (COC), several aspirants for elective posts had already started wooing voters with TV and advertisements as well as oversized tarpaulins. But the Commission on Elections (Comelec) was helpless as the aspirants could not be held liable of violating election laws.
Under Republic Act 9369 or the Poll Automation Law, “Any person who files his certificate of candidacy shall only be considered as a candidate at the start of the campaign period” … and “unlawful acts applicable to a candidate shall be in effect only upon that start of the campaign period.”
On Monday, the Comelec already issued a notice reminding all candidates and parties to immediately remove all prohibited forms of election propaganda before the start of the campaign period.
“Otherwise, said candidate or party shall be presumed to have committed the pertinent election offense during the said campaign period for national candidates,” Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said.
“Prohibited forms of election propaganda include those that are posted outside of common poster areas, in public places, or in private properties without the consent of the owner,” he added.
Based on Comelec Resolution No. 10488, the poll body listed the lawful election propaganda as follows:
1. Pamphlets, leaflets, cards, stickers or other printed materials not exceeding 8 1/2 by 14 inches;
2. Posters made of cloth, paper, cardboard or any posted material not exceeding 2 by 3 feet;
3. Printed letters urging voters to vote for or against any candidate;
4. Streamers not exceeding 3 feet by 8 feet in size displayed at the site and on the occasion of a public meeting or rally;
5. Social media posts, whether original or re-posted from some source, which may either be incidental to the poster’s advocacies of social issues or which may have, for its primary
purpose, the endorsement of a candidate only;
6. Mobile vehicles that is with or without sound systems and/or lights;
7. Paid advertisements in broadcast, Internet, mobile, print, or outdoor media subject to the requirements in the Fair Elections Act to mention a few.
The Comelec, however, urged parties and candidates to use recyclable and environment-friendly campaign materials while avoiding those that contain hazardous chemicals and substances in their productions.
Candidates and parties are also required to incorporate sign language interpreters and closed captioning in broadcast election propaganda intended for exhibition on television and or the Internet, and are encouraged to ensure the availability of their respective printed campaign materials in Braille.
In the same resolution, the Comelec en banc also listed the following as prohibited forms of election propaganda:
1. To print, publish, post or distribute any newspaper, newsletter, newsweekly, gazette or magazine advertising, pamphlet, leaflet, card, decal, bumper sticker, poster, comic book, circular, handbill, streamer, sample list of candidates or any published or printed political matter and to air or broadcast any election propaganda or political advertisement by television or radio or on the Internet for or against a candidate or group of candidates to any public office, unless they bear and be identified by the reasonably legible, or audible words “political advertisement paid for” followed by the true and correct name and address of the candidate or party for whose benefit the election propaganda was printed or aired. It shall likewise be unlawful to publish, print or distribute said campaign materials unless they bear, and are identified by, the reasonably legible, or audible words “political advertisements paid by,” followed by the true and correct name and address of the payor.
2. To show, display or exhibit publicly in a theater, through a television station, a video sharing site, social media network, or any public forum any movie, cinematography or documentary, including concert or any type of performance portraying the life or biography of a candidate, or in which a character is portrayed by an actor or media personality who is himself or herself a candidate;
3. To post, display or exhibit any election campaign or propaganda material outside of authorized common poster areas, in public places, or in private properties without the consent of the owner to mention a few.
Common poster areas include public places, such as in roads, plazas, markets, barangay centers, parks, or any other public grounds as identified by local election officers (EOs).
But the Comelec said it may allow parties and candidates to construct their own common poster areas as long as they are compliant with existing guidelines.
Other campaign regulations
As for those looking to use different forms of mass media in their campaign activities, candidates better take note of the following limits:
For broadcast campaign materials, candidates cannot have more than a total of 120 minutes of television ads on a per station basis; and not more than 180 minutes of radio ads on a per station basis.
In cases where two or more candidates appear in such campaign ads, the poll body said it will be counted against the airtime limits allotted for the said bets or parties.
As for guesting by candidates in a newscast, documentary, or news interviews, the Comelec said it will not be deemed as a propaganda material if their presence is incidental to the presentation of the subjects covered by the news event.
For printed or published election propaganda:
For broadsheets, the Comelec said the ad cannot be more than 1/4 page; for tabloids it cannot be beyond 1/2 page.
The cost of coordinated print ads shall be pro-rated among each candidate, political party, or party list organization appearing in each advertisement, and shall be reported accordingly.
For Internet, mobile, and social media propaganda:
The Comelec said each registered political party and candidate shall register with their Education and Information Department the website name and web address of the official blog or social media page.
Any other blogs or social media pages, it furthered, shall be deemed as an additional official blog or social media page of a candidate if it is determined that its primary purpose is the endorsement of a candidate when taken as a whole.
Meanwhile, authorized expenses of candidates and parties are as follow:
For candidates with political parties, they are allowed to spend P3 for every registered voter; while independent bets may spend P5 for every voter.
For political parties and party-list groups, they shall be allowed to spend P5 for every registered voter.
The Comelec reminded candidates and political parties that violation of the provisions of Resolution No. 10488, shall constitute an election offense, which carries the penalty of one to six years imprisonment, removal of the right to vote, and disqualification from holding public office.
The campaign period for national candidates will run from February 12 to May 11.