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Party-list group asks who premature campaigners are

A party-list group that has yet to bag a seat in the House of Representatives on Monday asked the Commission on Elections to reveal the identities of candidates engaged in premature campaigning.

Earlier, the group, Partido Lakas ng Masa, launched a campaign against premature campaigners through media advertisements asking voters to not vote for those involved in premature campaigning.

Comelec spokesman James Jimenez agreed with the group saying, “ultimately, the only real non-legislative solution to premature campaigning is to not vote for those who indulge in it.”

“We at PLM share Jimenez’s belief that the voting public is the supreme authority to make or unmake any aspirant for a public post but this is only effective if the electorate has an informed choice,” said Benjo Basas, the group’s first nominee.

Meanwhile, a new party-list lawmaker on Monday took his oath of office before Deputy Speaker and Batangas Rep. Raneo Abu during the plenary session, replacing ousted Arts Business and Science Professionals Party-list Rep. Eugene de Vera.

House Majority Leader and Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr., who chairs the House committee on rules, moved to take the oath of Ulysses Garces, ABS party-list second nominee, as the new congressman.

Andaya also merely took note of the opposition made by Liquefied Petroleum Gas Marketers Association Party-list Rep. Arnel Ty to the oathtaking of Garces.  

He said Ty’s motion could not be entertained as he did not make a formal motion to oppose de Vera’s ouster.

Last Nov. 19, Andaya, through his manifestation, directed the House’s Office of the House Secretary General to remove De Vera from the Rolls of Members of the House of Representatives.

Andaya Jr. informed the plenary about the communication from ABS party-list President Catalina Leonen-Pizarro informing the House leadership that their group has approved a board resolution expelling de Vera as member and removing him as representative.

Earlier, de Vera questioned before the Supreme Court the House leadership’s decision to recognize Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez as minority despite voting for Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as the leader of the House of Representatives last July.

De Vera, who used to be a member of the Suarez’s minority bloc, was among the co-petitioners in the petition filed by former House Majority Leader and Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas asking the SC to stop the House leadership from continuing to recognize Suarez as minority leader.

The PLM group insisted that ostracizing candidates and their supporters engaged in premature campaigning could only be effective if the poll body revealed their identities.

“The public would welcome every bit of information the Comelec can provide on the activities, background and positions on pertinent national issues of the candidates,” he added.

Despite the absence of a law prohibiting premature campaigning, the group said the Comelec had to perform its mandate of holding free, fair and honest elections. 

Basas asked the commision to enhance its voter education programs to assist the public in making informed choices.

Basas stressed without the Comelec’s active role in voters’ education, it would be difficult for groups like PLM that are composed of marginalized sectors to vie for congressional seats against the affluent, incumbent and celebrity-endorsed candidate.

Topics: House of Representatives , Commission on Elections , Partido Lakas ng Masa , James Jimenez
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