MANILA, Philippines - Presidential aspirants formally launched their respective campaigns on Tuesday even as the Commission on Elections laid down the ground rules for the candidates.
Atty. Ferdinand Rafanan, Comelec law department chief, said candidates should study Comelec guidelines in previous elections regarding where candidates can place their posters. These common poster areas include plazas, markets and barangay centers.
"You can place posters and stickers in these common areas. On the other hand, you cannot place posters and stickers on public transport systems such as the Light Rail Transit and Metro Rail Transit. We also ban putting posters on trees, schools, government offices and churches," Rafanan told ABS-CBN.
The Comelec law department chief praised the Quezon City government for passing an ordinance banning campaign propaganda on major streets in the city.
He said the Fair Election Practices Act also bars candidates from placing their names on banners, streamers or tarpaulins during Valentine's Day or graduation rites especially when they are not in the common poster areas.
On Tuesday, Brod. Eddie Villanueva had an early headstart in the campaign by leading his party Bangon Pilipinas Party (BPP) in unfurling what it calls the biggest Philippine flag at Rizal Park.
In a statement, the BPP said the Philippine flag, measuring 180 meters by 92 meters, signifies hope for the country. It weighs 3.8 tons and costs almost P10 million. Its maker is businesswoman and BPP supporter Grace Galindez Gupana.
The flag was first unfurled in Aritao, Nueva Vizcaya on Sept. 16, 2006.
On the other hand, Lakas-Kampi CMD standard bearer Gilbert Teodoro will start his official campaign with a rally in Antipolo, Rizal, allegedly without his political patron and party president emeritus President Gloria Arroyo.
"This is a big event for us. They will see the strength of Lakas-Kampi in this rally," Lakas-Kampi-CMD deputy secretary-general Ray Roquero said.
Lakas’ proclamation rally is at 4 p.m. at the Ynares Sports Complex, which can accommodate about 15,000 to 20,000 people. Teodoro and his running mate, Edu Manzano, will be joined by the party’s six administration senatorial candidates – broadcaster Reynante Langit, Binalonan Mayor Ramon Guico, lawyer Raul Lambino, outgoing Cabinet Secretary Silvestre Bello III, and reelectionist senators Lito Lapid and Bong Revilla.
Roquero said Mrs. Arroyo’s absence should not be given too much significance.
“She has shown that she is very supportive of Gibo,” he said. “Every now and then she checks on us regarding the campaign.”
No freebies from Noynoy
Liberal Party bet Sen. Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, meanwhile, is taking a different tack in the campaign even as he continued to lead in the presidential surveys.
LP campaign manager Butch Abad said the political party will do away with the usual freebies given out during rallies while relying heavily on volunteers to push for Aquino's candidacy.
"There are a lot of volunteers and a lot of support. Because our candidate is really strong in the surveys, the support is strong," Abad said.
Aquino and his running mate Sen. Manuel Roxas II, as well as LP senatorial candidates, will hold a motorcade to the Aquino Museum in Tarlac and then to the municipalities of Bamban, Capas and Tarlac City.
The Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino of former president Joseph Estrada, meanwhile, will hold its campaign rally in the historic Plaza Miranda in Quiapo, Manila to better tap Estrada's supporters from the grassroots.
For his part, the Nacionalista Party led by its standard-bearer Sen. Manuel Villar Jr. kicks off its “90-day journey to a better Philippines” in Calamba, Laguna, the birthplace of national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, with visits to public markets.
“We chose to launch our good fight in Rizal’s birthplace, Laguna, because the cradle of heroes is always the best springboard of change,” the NP said in a statement.
The NP said it chose Laguna “not because it is our bailiwick but because we believe that our vow to serve the people will assume a sacred dimension if made in the place symbolized by our national hero.”
Not to be outdone are the “transformers” team of Sen. Richard Gordon and former Metro Manila Development Authority chair Bayani Fernando.The two are set to kickoff their campaign with a rally in Imus, Cavite.
Gordon explained that his kickoff rally in Imus is reminiscent of the campaign his own great-grandfather Jose Tagle staged, which reportedly sparked the Philippine revolution in the province of Cavite.
Tagle, who served as Capitan Municipal of Imus, joined forces with revolutionary President Emilio Aguinaldo in winning the “Battle of Imus,” which Gordon said, was the first major victory of the revolutionaries against the Spanish colonizers.
“The start of our campaign is also a start towards change. We believe that Filipinos deserve clean and honest elections and they deserve truly competent and honest leaders who will fight corruption and lead them towards economic and political independence,” Gordon said.
Another presidential candidate, Nicanor Perlas, has set the start of his official campaigning on Saturday in Cebu. On Friday, he hopes to dramatize his call for clean elections with a “bike run." With a report from The Philippine Star