This appeared to be the message Commission on Elections (Comelec) spokesman James Jimenez wanted to share with reporters as the country enters the election period tomorrow.
New gimmicks as election period starts Sunday
Sheila Crisostomo (The Philippine Star) - January 12, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Need to know if a campaign gimmick is working? Just check its “virality” and you’ll get an idea.

This appeared to be the message Commission on Elections (Comelec) spokesman James Jimenez wanted to share with reporters as the country enters the election period tomorrow.

At a press conference yesterday, Jimenez said candidates were expected to come up with all sorts of campaign gimmicks and propaganda to call attention to themselves and boost their chances of getting elected on May 13.

“I think 2019 is the year of innovative campaign strategies for sure,” he said in reaction to a viral Facebook post showing panties – possibly for distribution during the campaign period – bearing the name of a Quezon City candidate.

Jimenez pointed out that if the intention of those behind the concept was to “maximize the ‘virality’ of their activity,” they may have succeeded.

“I think it’s a double-edged sword because people will talk about you, but what kind of image will they attach to your name? So that’s a risk that people sometimes are prepared to take,” he maintained.

Jimenez noted that personally, he does not see anything wrong with using underwear as campaign material but admitted this may be inappropriate to some.

“If you think about it, panty is no different from hats or t-shirts. Why? It is an article of clothing. It is just that, it is a particularly culturally sensitive article of clothing I think,” he added.

As far as the law is concerned, he said there is no basic or fundamental reason for “making it more unacceptable than say a printed t-shirt.”

He emphasized that the Comelec is more concerned about the cost of campaign materials than about their acceptability to the public. 

He said the start of the election period tomorrow would also mean the enforcement of various prohibitions, particularly on the carrying of firearms in public places. 

The period is also expected to be taken advantage of by many candidates, political parties and partylist organizations to rev up their premature campaigning.

“We will be seeing probably an increase in the presence or visibility of candidates. Because it’s within the election period, within the time that you expect people to talk about the elections,” he added.

Jimenez reminded candidates that election period is “still outside of the campaign period, which means they still have about a month’s time before they can be actually regulated.” 

He said the election period appears to lift some sort of psychological barrier to premature campaigning.

“The problem with doing prior to the election period is that it becomes sort of very obvious that you are prematurely campaigning and some people shy away from that. But when you enter the election period, a sort of psychological barrier is lifted because, well, it’s election period already,” he added.

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