The Commission on Elections on Thursday admitted it was helpless against premature campaigning by major senatorial candidates due to some loopholes on election campaign rule.
Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said in his Twitter account that many candidates, especially running for national posts, were engaged in premature campaigning.
The poll body said it could not even slap the wrists of politicians who have resorted to premature campaigning because there was no specific law that allowed the Comelec to reprimand or act against candidates engaging in premature campaigning.
Jimenez said the Comelec could not put a stop to this, as well as the posting of tarpaulins and campaign posters with politicians’ faces.
The Comelec spokesperson cited Republic Act 9369, Section 13 stating “that 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…”
The campaign period for those running for national posts starts 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.
However, the Comelec said the candidates who placed posters on the streets could be charged with vandalism and littering, but only the local government units have the authority to do it.
Jimenez appealed to all political aspirants for a sense of delicadeza and avoid premature campaigning.