Although premature campaigning is not considered illegal at this time, Commission on Elections spokesman James Jimenez reminded officials to avoid campaigning less than a year before the senatorial elections in 2019.
“We don’t like premature campaigning—the Comelec doesn’t like premature campaigning—and, yes, it should be illegal. But it is not,” Jimenez said.
Jimenez’s statement came with posters bearing the face and name of Special Assistant to President Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go in footbridges, several electric posts, and even trees, in Malabon City, for instance.
Jimenez cited the loophole in Republic Act No. 9369, which provides that any person, who files a Certificate of Candidacy, was considered a candidate only at the start of the campaign period; and that acts or ommissions applicable to a candidate, such as premature campaigning, shall take effect only at the start of the campaign period.
In addition to Go’s face and name, the posters also bore the name of Malabon City Councilor Bernard dela Cruz, who said he supported “GO na Tayo.”
Go was also prominently featured in the recently held PBA All-Star 2018, which had three legs, namely in Davao City, Batangas City, and Iloilo City.
In particular, Go was among those who gave welcoming remarks in the event when it was held in Davao City and Iloilo City last week.
Go was also one of the participants in the special three-point shootout held during the Davao leg of the PBA All-Star event.
Not a few netizens balked at Go’s presence in the annual event of the PBA with many seeing it as a veil campaigning activity by President Duterte’s top aide.
“Why is Bong Go present in PBA All Star Iloilo? It’s too early to campaign 🙄” asked Twitter user “Joy” (@akosijoystickx)
“Bong Go using PBA as fresh start for senatorial campaign,” said Twitter user “Mark Romel Verdejo” (@itsOMENG).
“The PBA just got political with Bong Go always appearing,” said another Twitter user “Sebastian Panlilio” (@sebpanlilio).
Earlier, Go said he would not run in the 2019 midterm elections despite being openly endorsed by Duterte, saying he would rather focus first on his present job.