By Leslie Ann Aquino
Election lawyer Romulo Macalintal said President Duterte is not liable for committing an election offense when he endorsed singer Freddie Aguilar, a senatorial aspirant, because Aguilar is not yet a “candidate.”
“In an automated election, where the certificate of candidacy of candidates have to be filed early to enable Comelec to print the names of the candidates on the ballots, those who filed their COCs are not yet treated as ‘candidate’,” he said in a statement.
“Since Aguilar is not yet considered as a candidate, then it is as if the President is not campaigning for a ‘candidate’ and therefore not liable for any election offense,” added Macalintal.
That’s why, he said there is no need for Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo to insist that President Duterte did not use the word “vote” when the president raised the hand of singer Freddie Aguilar urging those present to vote for the latter.
“Even without the word ‘vote’, any word or act that tends to enhance the victory of a candidate is pure and simple campaigning as provided under the law,” Macalintal said.
He added that the more Panelo tried in vain to save the President from a non-existing election violation, the more he gives extra media mileage to Aguilar to the disadvantage of other senatoriables.
Based on Republic Act No. 9369 “any person who files his Certificate of Candidacy shall only be considered as a candidate at the start of the campaign period”.
The Campaign Period for those running for national posts is from February 12, 2019 to May 11, 2019.
For local positions, the Campaign Period is from March 29, 2019 to May 11, 2019.