MANILA, Philippines - While critics may describe President Aquino's speech in Cebu yesterday as a form of early campaigning, the chairman of the Commission on Elections believes the President didn't violate any rules.
"Wala ho talaga. Yan ang desisyon ng Korte Suprema. Wala ho tayong premature campaigning ngayon. There are no candidates. Ang essence ng campaign is asking for votes to a particular candidate. Wala pa pong kandidato ngayon. You only become a candidate under the automation law during the election period," Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. said in a radio dzMM interview.
President Aquino on Wednesday made an appearance with some of the Liberal Party-coalition candidates in the vote-rich province of Cebu ahead of the official start of the campaign period.
The President made a pitch for his Senate bets, saying that he needs them to continue the reforms that he has started.
“Ang tanong: Itutuloy ba natin ang pagtahak sa tuwid na daan ng kaunlaran? O gusto ba nating mag-U-turn pabalik sa kanto ng katiwalian at kalsada ng kahirapan?” he said in his speech.
“Magiging suwabe lang po ang biyahe natin kapag mayroon tayong kakamping hindi magka-counterflow sa tuwid na daan at talagang makikipagbayanihan upang maitulak ang ating mga reporma.”
He said he personally chose these candidates because they share his beliefs.
“Ako na po mismo ang nagsasabi sa inyo: Kailangan natin sila upang tuloy-tuloy nating maisulong ang bayan. Sila po, tulad natin, ay pinili rin ang tuwid na daan ng paglilingkod-bayan. Suportado po natin sila dahil bukod sa hindi sila tiwali ay malinaw rin sa kanila kung ano ang dapat ipaglaban at kung alin ang mali na dapat iwaksi ng lipunan,” he said.
Meanwhile, Brillantes said the Comelec has cut down the allowed air time for poll candidates to 120 minutes for TV ads and 180 minutes for radio.
The new rule is a major change compared to last year's per station counting of minutes.
The Comelec chairman said they are focusing on provincial channel and radio stations that are owned by candidates themselves.