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Follow the rules, Comelec tells candidates

Posted on: February 8, 2010

Follow the rules, Comelec tells candidates

By Anna Valmero
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 17:39:00 02/08/2010

Filed Under: Politics, Elections, Eleksyon 2010

MANILA, Philippines — A day before the official start of the election campaign, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) is urging candidates running for the May 10 polls to follow the rules set under the Fair Elections Act.

Comelec has issued Resolution 8758, or the guidelines for fair election practices that sets the limits for the use of press, radio and television facilities for political advertisements.

“We call on voters to be vigilant and to take a proactive role in assessing and communicating to Comelec if candidates follow or violate these fair election rules,” said, said Comelec spokesman James Jimenez.

Any person found guilty of any election offense or in violation of the fair election practices will face a penalty of one to six years imprisonment and will also be disqualified from voting and holding public office.

Any political party likewise found guilty will pay a fine of no less than P10,000, according to Jimenez.

The campaign period for national candidates begins February 9 until May 8 while campaign period for local positions is set from March 26 to May 8.

During this period, national candidates with a registered political party or parties with national candidates can air 120 minutes of political advertisements on national or cable television, and 180 minutes on radio, according to the resolution.

Local candidates or parties with local candidates are allowed 60 minutes on national or cable television and 90 minutes on radio, the ruling said.

Comelec ruled that the maximum size of print advertisement for each national or local candidate is one fourth page in broadsheet dailies and one half page in tabloids, said Jimenez.

Each political ad is required to identity the candidate or party and should indicate who paid for it, if it was donated or given free of charge by a publishing firm or broadcast media.
During election period, media outlets are mandated to give discounted airtime or publishing rates to political advertisements: 30 percent off for television rates, 20 percent for radio and 10 percent for print.

Candidates or political parties can only post campaign materials in authorized common poster areas in public and in private places provided there is consent of the owner.

The resolution also states that written or printed materials should measure eight and one-half inches in width and 14 inches in length while posters made of cloth, paper, whether framed or posted, should not exceed two feet by three feet.

“Posting of campaign materials outside of the designated common poster areas and allowed spaces such as streets, bridges, public structures, trees, electric posts, bridges and the like are prohibited. Persons posting the materials shall be held liable together with the candidates or persons who caused the posting,” said Jimenez.

Members of the Philippine National Police and other law agencies can be called upon by the Comelec to apprehend violators caught in the act or voters can report the violators directly to Comelec hotline (02) 5259294, said Jimenez.

No Internet rules yet

As for Internet or online campaigning, Comelec has yet to issue rulings since existing election laws such as the Omnibus Election Code and Republic Act 9006 only cover print, radio and television as media outlets for political campaigns and advertisements.

These political advertisements and campaign expenditures should comply with the allowed spending per candidate: P10 per voter for presidential and vice presidential bets; P5 per voter for independent candidates or those without political party running for senator down to local positions, said Jimenez.

Meanwhile, a political party can spend P5 for every voter registered in the constituency where they have official candidates, meaning campaign spending for a local candidate can reach P8 including the spending of his political party, he added.

He added that campaigns are prohibited on April 1 and 2, Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, respectively and on May 9 and 10, the eve of Election Day and the day of the national and local elections.

Close to 18,000 national and local positions—including one president and vice president, 12 senators and over 270 posts at the House of Representatives—are up for grabs in the May elections, according to Comelec data.

Comelec registered over 49 million voters and would print 50 million special paper ballots for the first automated elections in the country.

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