Nothing illegal with premature campaigning, Comelec reiterates

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 05 2019 08:28 PM

This poster of Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos, a senatorial aspirant, was taken down during the Sinulog Festival in Cebu City last month, with Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña saying Cebuanos "do not appreciate the politicization" of the religious event. Photo from Osmeña's Facebook Page

MANILA - There is nothing illegal with candidates promoting themselves ahead of the official election campaign period, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said Tuesday.

Comelec Spokesperson James Jimenez made the clarification amid the proliferation of several posters and videos of politicians seeking public office for the May midterm elections.

"Because it is coming out before the start of the campaign period then automatically it is considered as premature campaigning," Jimenez told ANC's "Beyond Politics."

"It's not illegal. It's not punishable by law. You might not like that it's being done, you might find it distasteful, but technically there is no violation of the law," he added.

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Among those considered as campaign materials according to Jimenez are posters, billboards, television commercials, movies, and television programs about a candidate.

"If they promote a candidacy or when they promote the defeat of someone, it is considered a campaign material," Jimenez said.

Jimenez, however, clarified that once the campaign period starts on Feb. 12 for senatorial and party-list candidates, all campaign materials earlier posted would be considered in violation of the law.

"There's no way that can be legal once the campaign period starts," he said.

Even holiday greetings such as "Happy Valentine's Day!" would be considered as an election offense once the campaign period starts, Jimenez noted.

"The tendency of those campaign materials is to build recall and building recall increases your chances of winning," he said. 

There are a total of 62 candidates for senator and 134 party-list nominees for the upcoming polls.