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Bill revives law vs premature campaigning

07 November 2018

Three senators are seeking to revive a law that prohibits premature campaigning.

Senators Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, Richard Gordon, and Leila de Lima have filed Senate Bill 2064 restores the provision in the Omnibus Election Code that criminalizes campaigning long before the election period has set in.

The bill had passed public hearings by the committee on electoral reforms and people’s participation chaired by Pimentel.

The panel’s Committee Report No. 492 redefines “candidate” as someone “who files his certificate of candidacy (CoC) within the period provided by the Commission on Elections (Comelec).”

The bill penalizes any form of partisan political activity by a candidate prior to his filing of CoC or way before the start of the official campaign period.

Under Sections 80 and 264 of the Omnibus Election Code, premature campaigning is considered an election offense punishable by imprisonment of not less than one year but not more than six years, as well as disqualification to hold public office and deprivation of the right of suffrage.

In the existing law, Republic Act 9369, a person seeking elective position is considered a candidate only during the entire campaign period. In effect, it decriminalized “premature campaigning, SB 2064 pointed out.

“The unfair repercussions of this rule are far and wide. It propagates political inequality as it unduly favors rich or popular candidates over poor or less popular candidates,” Gordon said.
“It also negates transparency and accountability as it shamelessly excludes such premature campaigning from the regulation of campaign finance and the limitations on election campaign and expenditures,” he said.

Gordon added: “The barrage of political advertisements on TV and radio and the obvious electioneering or campaigning by many candidates way before the start of the official campaign period in the last elections were too much to be ignored.”

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