MANILA - Supporters of Halalan 2022 candidates are essentially not covered by rules prohibiting candidates and political parties from campaigning after May 7, the Commission on Elections said Sunday.
Comelec Commissioner George Garcia told ABS-CBN’s TeleRadyo that the ban strictly applies on candidates and political parties.
“Napakahirap, aaminin natin, na i-impose yung pagbabawal na ‘yan sa mga supporters, kasi yung supporters are entitled sa tinatawag na freedom of expression. Karapatan nila ‘yan,” Garcia said a day after the campaign period for the May 9 elections ended.
(We admit that it’s very difficult to impose that prohibition on supporters because they are entitled to what we call freedom of expression. That is their right.)
Supporters who continue to promote their preferred candidates cannot be apprehended because illegal campaigning rules starting Sunday are applicable only to candidates and political parties, he said.
“Therefore, kung merong 50 milyong Pilipino na magpo-post ng kung ano-ano para sa kanilang mga nagugustuhang kandidato, sa bandang huli, hindi po yung covered nung prohibition na ito,” said Garcia.
(Therefore, if there are 50 million Filipinos posting in favor of their preferred candidates, in the end, these are not covered by the campaign prohibition.)
WHAT PARTICULAR ACTS MAY BE PROHIBITED
He noted, however, that house-to-house visits of supporters is another matter, as it is possible that people involved in the activity may be part of the candidates’ and political parties’ campaign teams.
“We can always look into that, and we can always say na ito ay campaigning by a campaign team,” he said.
The poll body is also monitoring “mass and group texting” as a form of campaigning, which he said is prohibited if candidates are involved.
Distributing sample ballots is prohibited as well because it is considered another form of campaigning, the official said.
“Lahat ng magdi-distribute n’yan, pwedeng i-consider ng Commission on Elections, ng ating security forces na nagpapatupad ng katahimikan diyan sa bawat barangay, na yan ay pangangampanya,” said Garcia.
(The Comelec and security forces tasked to ensure order in barangays may considered the distribution of sample ballots as campaigning.)
He said that in the end, the public may refuse to receive whatever is handed to them, and just bring their own guide or list.
The campaign period for national candidates opened on Feb. 8, while local candidates were allowed starting March 25.
More than 65 million voters are expected to troop to polling centers on Monday, from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.