By Leslie Ann Aquino
The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) said it is powerless when it comes to the spending on premature campaigning advertisements of candidates since this happened before the start of the campaign period.
“Unfortunately, we cannot do anything about it,” Comelec Spokesman James Jimenez said in a television interview.
“All these happened before the campaign period. This is premature campaigning,” he added.
The poll body, Jimenez said only checks expenses during the campaign period.
“This is what we have been pointing as a loophole in the law,” he said.
Once premature campaign is declared illegal, Jimenez said it will be minimized.
“As of now, they are just free to do anything and spend for any political advertisements,” he said.
Based on the report of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ), from January 2018 to January 2019, the combined ad spending of 18 senatorial candidates on TV, radio, print, and outdoor ads have already reached P2.4 billion
PCIJ said 12 senatorial candidates under the Hugpong ng Pagbabago-Partido Demokratikong Pilipino (HNP-PDP-LABAN) banner incurred a combined ad spending of P1.32 billion in the last 13 months.
To note, the campaign period for national candidates started only last February 12.