CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – The Commission on Elections here admitted on Wednesday, September 13, that they cannot monitor social media daily for possible violations, especially campaign posters published online, prior to the start of the campaign period for this year’s barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections.
Lawyer Joel Dexter Nagtalon, city election officer of the first district here, urged the public and stakeholders to inform the agency of violations to enable them to follow the proper procedures in addressing the issue.
JOEL Dexter Nagtalon, Cagayan de Oro City election officer for the first district, answers questions from the media during the ‘Kapihan sa PIA’ (Philippine Information Agency) at Rotunda, Limketkai, Cagayan de Oro City, on Wednesday, September 13. (Photo courtesy of Daniel Clark Cabantan)
"For those who know, you inform us so that we can send the proper notice to the concerned (candidates)," Nagtalon said in a media forum.
The city election officer stressed that posting campaign materials on social media prior to the specified campaign period of October 19 to 28 is considered "premature campaign activity" and an election offense.
Section 23 of Comelec Resolution No. 10924, entitled Rules and Regulations Implementing Republic Act No. 9006, or the Fair Elections Act, states that all prohibited forms of election propaganda as described in Section 7 of the resolution "shall be removed, or caused to be removed, by the candidate at least 72 hours before the start of the campaign period."
If the candidate fails to remove these after the given time period, whether she or he is not the one who posted the material, she or he shall be presumed to have committed violation.
Nagtalon said conduct house-to-house, meet-and-greet, and handshaking, among others, before the campaign period are also considered premature campaign activities, specifically if candidates express their intent to run for elective positions.
The Comelec reactivated the City Joint Security Control Center in Cagayan de Oro last week, to be followed by the reactivation of "Baklas" and "Kontra Bigay" committees composed of different government agencies.
The poll body has not received any reports that campaign posters have been displayed in this city.
Aside from the Baklas committee, private individuals can also remove prohibited campaign materials by informing the Comelec beforehand as the commission has already identified common poster areas here.
Trees, plants, and shrubs on public roads, plazas, parks, school premises, or on any other public ground cannot be designated as common poster areas, as stated in Paragraph (b) of Section 18 of Comelec Resolution No. 10924.
To have a peaceful election, the Comelec, together with other government agencies, will conduct a unity walk, participated in by BSKE candidates in this city, as well as covenant signing, integrity pledge signing, and a candidate briefing on Saturday, September 16, in Kiosko Kagawasan in Divisoria.
This city has over 379,000 registered voters, 182,000 from the first district and 197,000 from the second district.