MANILA — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Friday warned candidates for the 2023 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) polls against premature campaigning.
Comelec chair George Erwin Garcia told reporters that candidates in the coming local polls will only be allowed to campaign during the official prescribed period to do so.
Those campaigning outside this period would be considered committing an election offense, which may be grounds for disqualification.
"Bawal mga campaign materials at bawal mangampanya pa pagkafile ng candidacy except during the campaign period,” Garcia said in a Viber message, citing sections from the Omnibus Election Code.
Garcia also noted that the Comelec en banc had agreed on a Supreme Court ruling that "voided the prohibition on premature campaigning," saying this only applied to automated elections where the filing of certificates of candidacies are scheduled earlier to allow names to be printed on ballots.
The barangay and SK elections, on the other hand, will be done manually.
Asked what prompted Comelec to make this decision, Garcia said the poll body “cannot be inutile and powerless” in enforcing election laws in the face of premature campaigning.
He said that because of the Supreme Court ruling, "candidates were boldly committing premature campaigning" and were "not afraid of any consequence."
"We can always interpret the laws in a manner that protects the right of suffrage, the interest of the voters and the Filipinos in general unless we are restrained or reversed by the Highest Court. Let anyone challenge the legality of our action,” Garcia said.
In a press release, the Comelec said the filing period of COCs will depend on its decision, which is “usually scheduled weeks or months apart” from the start of the campaign period.
“Candidates are only allowed to campaign for a duration of 10 days, as stated in the law. Any electioneering activity prior to the permitted timetable is considered premature campaigning," the poll body said.
"Election materials displayed ahead of the campaign period will be removed and cases are to be filed against those who would be caught commiting the said election offense," it added.
FROM THE ARCHIVES:
ANC, ANC promo, Comelec, Barangay, Sangguniang Kabataan, elections, BSKE, George Garcia, Commission on Elections, premature campaigning