By Leslie Ann Aquino, Minka Klaudia Tiangco, Chito Chavez, Charissa Luci-Atienza, and Jhon Aldrin Casinas
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) expects a spike in the number of motorcades and political rallies in the final week of the campaign period for the May 13 midterm elections.
“During the last few days of the local campaign, there will be an increase in the number of motorcades, people on the streets, rallies on all hours of the day,” Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said in an interview.
“It will spike in the last week, where there will be miting de avance and all the last push for candidates,” he added.
The campaign period for all national and local candidates is set to end on Saturday, May 11.
The poll official asked local government units (LGUs) to make sure that their streets are able to accommodate the spike in the activities of local campaigns.
“We are gently reminding our colleagues in the LGUs to make sure that their procedures are all in place,” said Jimenez.
Candidates who are holding miting de avance or their final campaign rally, meantime, were reminded by the poll body to follow campaign rules.
Jimenez said putting up streamers and tarpaulins for the miting de avance still cannot be longer than 24 hours before and after the event.
“This applies to all sorts of political rallies, even major miting de avances, which, in the past, have tried to make a distinction for,” he said.
“Again, there is no distinction. All political rallies will have to adhere to the same standard,” added Jimenez.
Ballot box with torn sticker.
A ballot box with its sticker torn was delivered in Pasig City on Friday morning.
But the ballot box’s sticker may have just been accidentally torn while in transit, Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said.
“Sticker may have torn during movement of the track as the ‘lap’ or the torn edge appears uneven,” Jimenez said in a tweet.
“The torn sticker is not ideal, obviously, but it is impossible to rule out accidental tearing,” he added.
Jimenez also said that the ballot box and its contents must be inspected to check if there are “indications of tampering or pilferage.”
Shun dirty politics
The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) urged the electorate to shun dirty politics and vote only for political aspirants who will protect the public and not their personal interest.
DILG Undersecretary for Barangay Affairs Martin Diño cited the exigency of the nationwide campaign for “Matino, Mahusay, at Maasahang’’ campaign, saying that political aspirants involved in corruption, illegal drugs, and other nefarious activities have “absolutely no right to govern.’’
Diño pleaded to the voters not to “compromise their principles in exercising their right to suffrage as doing so will put the country in the doldrums of a decaying republic.”
He warned incumbent barangay officials that the stiffest sanctions allowed by law would be imposed on them if they are found guilty of any grave irregularity “particularly those engaged in partisan politics.”
The DILG has filed cases against at least 52 barangay officials from Quezon City, Pasay City, Misamis Oriental, Bataan, Taguig City, and Caloocan City before the Comelec for allegedly engaging in partisan politics in relation to the May 13, 2019, mid-term elections.
DILG Undersecretary and spokesman Jonathan Malaya said that this should serve as a warning to other local officials intending to campaign vigorously and with total disregard to existing laws.
El Shaddai endorsement
Retired Novaliches Bishop Teodoro Bacani said the endorsement of El Shaddai leader Bro. Mike Velarde of 14 senatorial candidates is not a command to his followers.
“Bro. Mike has a right to make endorsements. That is according to Catholic teaching. But his endorsement is not a command to his followers though they must consider it seriously. They must still vote according to their conscience for those people who will be good for the country,” said Bacani, spiritual adviser of El Shaddai.
The endorsed candidates are: Cynthia Villar, Bong Go, Bato Dela Rosa, Grace Poe, Imee Marcos, Nancy Binay, Koko Pimentel, Francis Tolentino, Sonny Angara, Bong Revilla, Jinggoy Estrada, JV Ejercito, Bam Aquino, and Willie Ong
Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo expressed hope that the endorsement was done with the “common good” in mind.
Eye on the VRVS
Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas asked the voting public to keep an eye on the pilot run of the new voter registration and verification system (VRVS) for the 2019 elections, fearing that it may lead to delays and possible disenfranchisement in vote-rich areas.
She said voters should exercise vigilance over the diagnostics and testing of the VRVS starting May 6, even as she urged Comelec to launch a massive information campaign on the system.
Brosas cited the need for Comelec to ensure smooth pilot run of the VRVS as the new voter verification machines will be used only in 14 areas during the May 13 elections, which according to her, constitute a sizeable chunk of the total voting population.
Keep the faith
Vice President and opposition leader Leni Robredo has rallying words for the “Otso Diretso” slate: “Keep the faith.”
“Talaga iyong faith hindi sa sarili, pero iyong faith sa mga botante na at the end, ang pipiliin nila iyong pinaniniwalaan talaga nila,” Robredo said on her Sunday radio show, “BISErbisyong Leni.”
Of the eight candidates, only reelectionist Senator Bam Aquino has a statistical chance of winning in next week’s polls, according to an April 10 to 14 survey conducted by Pulse Asia.
The other Otso Diretso candidates namely lawyers Chel Diokno, Romulo Macalintal and Florin Hilbay, Marawi civic leader Samira Gutoc, Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano, former lawmakers Mar Roxas, and Erin Tañada ranked between 14th and 43rd slots.
Like Robredo, Senator Francis Pangilinan was optimistic that the Otso Diretso bets could still deliver a stronger-than-expected turnout.
Listen to your conscience
Running priest Father Robert Reyes urged Filipino Catholic voters to pray and listen to their conscience in choosing their candidates in the upcoming elections.
The activist priest, who led a group of yellow shirt-wearing supporters along Quezon Avenue Sunday morning, endorsed the senatorial candidates of Otso Diretso and showed his support to the opposition slate to ensure the independence of the senate.
Sentorial bets Chel Diokno, Samira Gutoc, Romy Macalintal, and Erin Tañada and the representatives of Gary Alejano, Bam Aquino, Pilo Hilbay, and Mar Roxas were present in the event.
Illegal campaign materials
Environmental group EcoWaste Coalition urged all agencies deputized by the Comelec to strictly impose prohibitions on illegal election campaign materials.
“As the campaign for the midterm polls enters the final stretch, we can expect more candidates and parties to step up their last-ditch efforts to woo voters regardless of the Comelec rules on lawful election propaganda,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.
“To encourage respect for the rule of law, we urge agencies authorized by the Comelec to conduct non-stop removal operations of posters and other campaign materials that are oversized or displayed in forbidden places,” she added.
Among the agencies designated by the Comelec to dismantle unlawful campaign materials are the Departments of Environment and Natural Resources, Interior and Local Government, Public Works and Highways, and Transportation, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, and the Philippine National Police.
On Saturday, the PNP reported tearing down over 245,000 oversized and misplaced election campaign materials nationwide.