Bill seeks ban on premature campaig as bets start electioneering splurge

Published December 14, 2021, 1:52 PM

by Ben Rosario

Moneyed candidates, particularly those aspiring for president and vice president, should be stopped from using their huge financial resources and those of supporters bankrolling their candidacy to engage in premature campaigning.

Makabayan Bloc

Bayan Muna lawmakers aired this call as they filed House Bill 10616 that seeks to prohibit premature campaigning currently practiced by nearly all candidates for national and local posts that will be up for grabs next year.

House Deputy Minority Leader Carlos Isagani Zarate, together with Reps. Ferdinand Gaite and Eufemia Cullamat, assailed several candidates for promoting their respective bids through advertisements in TV, radio and social media.

Many candidates have started to go around the country for their campaign rallies and to engage in various partisan political activities.

“Undoubtedly, early election campaigning has already started,” the three lawmakers said in the explanatory note of House Bill 10616 or “An Act Determining the Period of Candidacy for Election Purposes, and Prohibiting Premature Campaigning.” “This bill seeks to equalize the playing field among candidates by removing the confusion brought about by the provision in the Automated Election System Law that determines when a person becomes a candidate,” the Bayan Muna solon said.

The bill bans premature campaigning or unlawful partisan political activity that are conducted outside the campaign period set by the Commission on elections.

However, authors proposed that political parties or partylist groups may be allowed to hold political conventions or meetings to nominate official candidates within 30 days before the start of the campaign period for positions other than the president or vice president.

Political meetings and conventions for the nomination of the president or vice president of a political party or partylist group may be held withing 45 days prior to the commencement of the campaign period.

“Since 2009, moneyed candidates have been able to launch their electoral campaign without violating the law, even before the start of the campaign period,” the Bayan Muna solons said.

This is because of a Supreme Court ruling, specifically in the Penera v. Comelec, that declared that a candidate can only be considered as such at the start of the campaign period.

“Hence, even if the person has already filed a Certificate of Candidacy, she or he cannot be liable for premature campaigning even before the start of the campaign period,” authors of the bill explained.