Comelec urged: Let showbiz politicians work after filing

By Lilita Balane, Newsbreak

Posted at Nov 04 2009 12:34 AM | Updated as of Nov 04 2009 09:24 PM

Advisory for actor-politicians out next week

MANILA - Actress Ara Mina, who intends to run in the 2010 elections, appealed to the poll body on Tuesday afternoon to allow her to continue appearing on TV after she files her certificate of candidacy this month, arguing that she can’t afford to lose her source of income way ahead of the official campaign period.

Mina submitted to the office of Commission on Elections (Comelec) chair Jose Melo her appeal letter, which was also signed by 2 other TV personalities eyeing local elective posts in next year. They were Maybeline dela Cruz of the soap opera “May Tinik sa Dibdib” and Alfred Vargas, a member of the “Darna” cast.

She said the letter hopes to clarify Comelec rules on actors and actresses who will join the 2010 races.

Because of the automation of the elections, the Comelec pushed back to as early as December 1 the deadline for the filing of certificates of candidacies because it needs more time to print the new type of ballots, where the names of candidates are all printed.

In past manual elections—when the ballots printed only contained blanks where voters wrote the names of candidates—the poll body accepted candidacies until right before the campaign period, which is mid-February for national candidates, and late March for local candidates.

Extended ban

With the new guidelines, the Comelec is looking into banning politicians from the entertainment industry from making any public or mass media appearances related to their work right after they file their certificates of candidacy, and not just during the official campaign period.

This would be like stretching the election ban from the official 90 days to around 165 days for national candidates, or from the official 45 days to around 120 days for local candidates.

Mina is running as councilor in the 2nd district of Quezon City, where her biological father Chuck Mathay once served as congressman.

She said that they were open to not appearing on TV during the 45 days of the campaign period, but not immediately after they had filed their candidacy since it will deprive them of their source of income.

Guidelines next week

Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal said that the Comelec will issue an advisory containing the guidelines for actor-politicians next week.

Though the advisory will only touch on issues raised in Mina’s letter, Larrazabal said they also hope to include guidelines for other candidates working in the mass media. Moreover, the Comelec might also include rules for candidates appearing in concerts.

“Preventing her from appearing on TV will be depriving her a means of livelihood from that period of time, so there’s something wrong there. The law states a candidate is considered a candidate only at the start of the campaign period. She can still work, she could still appear on TV,” Larrazabal said.

Mina said that she will make sure that her TV programs won’t not touch on her candidacy or be used to campaign for her.

Penera case

The poll body had thought that banning TV personalities from appearing in movies or TV shows during the campaign period would prevent them from having unfair advantage over non-showbiz politicians.

This was after the Supreme Court, by a vote of 8-7, found Mayor Rosalinda Penera of Sta. Monica, Surigao del Sur, guilty of premature campaigning when her supporters held a motorcade and distributed candies on her way to filing her certificate of candidacy for the 2007 elections.

The tribunal said the acts violated Section 80 of the Omnibus Election Code which states: “It shall be unlawful for any person whether or not a voter or candidate, or any party or association of persons, to engage in an election campaign or partisan political activity, except during the campaign period.”

Penera was charged with premature campaigning by losing rival Edgar Andanar. Penera, in her defense, said that she had not filed her COC at the time of the alleged violation. The SC said, however, that it is not a valid excuse because such offense can be a committed by a person who is not a candidate. (Newsbreak)