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‘Pro-Sara banner not a poll offense’

The Commission on Elections reiterated Friday that people putting up “Run, Sara, Run” banners across Davao City and other parts of the country urging the President’s daughter to run in 2022 did not constitute an electoral offense.

The other day, supporters of President Rodrigo Duterte urged presidential daughter Sara Duterte to run for president in the 2022 national elections.

At a media briefing in Quezon City, Dr. Alvin Sahagun, president of Alyansa ni Inday Movement (AIM), said all they just wanted was to “show to the President and (Davao City Mayor) Sara how much we love them.”

“This is our freedom of expression and choice for her to run in 2022,” he told reporters.

The group launched “Run, Inday, Run” and held a motorcade along Epifanio delos Santos Avenue in Pasay City until Quezon Memorial Circle in Quezon City involving luxury cars.

“This is in recognition of what the President has done to the country. This is just our opinion for continuity of the President’s achievements,” Sahagun said.

But he clarified their effort was out of volunteerism, and not a paid movement.

“Technically, there is no violation because in order for premature campaigning to be committed there should be an official candidate,” Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez told ANC.

“And no official candidate exists right now. In fact, we are not even filing the certificate of candidacy yet. So, since there is no official candidate, there can be no crime or should we say offense of premature campaigning.”

President Rodrigo Duterte previously said his daughter was not running for the country’s highest post in 2022.

“Inday Sara is not running. I have really, really put my foot down.... I pity my daughter. The politics here is dirty,” he said in a briefing in Tandag City, Surigao del Sur.

Last month, the Davao City mayor also appealed to her supporters to wait for her to run for president until 2034.

Jimenez said the “Run Sara Run” banners, which have been slammed by several social media users as early campaigning, was “a matter of free expression.”

“These people have the right to actually promote the candidacy of anyone that they want. They could put up a banner that says ‘Christian Run’ and it won’t make a difference because it’s a matter of free expression,” he said.

Meanwhile, Comelec is two million behind its target of registering 4 million new voters for the May 9, 2022, general elections.

“Since September 1, I think we’re at 1.9 million more or less. There were some 500,000 applicants in January 2020,” Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said.

Jimenez said the number was far from their target number of voter registrants.

“The number is still short of our 4 million target. But we will reach that goal,” he added.

The Comelec has urged people to register and not be afraid since there have been no recorded cases of coronavirus disease 2019 transmission in Comelec offices.

Comelec also said voters would have more time to cast their vote during the May 9, 2022 local and national polls.

He said the poll body was planning to hold the voting in open spaces like gyms or covered courts as some of the polling precincts are cramped.

The number of voters per polling precinct will also be reduced from 1,000 to 600, he said.

Even the political watchers or observers will also be limited.

Jimenez said the teachers serving during the polls will be provided with protective equipment.

Jimenez also said people should not be afraid to register since there have been no recorded cases of coronavirus disease 2019 transmission in Comelec offices.

“Until now, we have recorded zero transmission cases in Comelec offices. It’s safe to register. It’s important to follow health protocols. Wear a face mask, face shield and submit your health declaration form… Once they have an appointment, as soon as they arrive at the Office of the Election Officer, their applications will immediately be processed. And you need to register to be able to vote in May 2022,” he added.

On Friday, Jimenez and some Comelec officials, as well as poll stakeholders, launched the election information drive, “Walkah-Walkah: @MagparehistroKa Voter Education Campaign” to encourage more people to register.

The activity kicked off in Intramuros, Manila, where motorcycle riders proceeded to Mindanao Avenue corner Quirino Highway in Quezon City.

The participants then walked to the Gawad Kalinga Village in Barangay Talipapa, Quezon City where they handed out flyers and invited the public to register as voters.

Also part of the activity is to inform the public about Comelec’s adoption of protocols to ensure a safe and Covid-19-free voter registration.

The nationwide voter registration will run until Sept. 30, 2021.

Topics: Commission on Elections , “Run , Sara , Run” banners , Davao City , Sara Duterte
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