Comelec not going after early campaign posters
Michael Vencynth H. Braga/RHM (The Freeman) - February 3, 2016 - 9:00am

CEBU, Philippines - Even though the start of the campaign period for national candidates is still five days away, various campaign materials can already be seen in public places and on public conveyances.

But while this was prohibited by the Commission on Elections in past elections, it will no longer be so this May and in succeeding elections.

Provincial Election Supervisor Lionel Marco Castillano said exhibition of campaign materials on public utility vehicles is already allowed, citing the recent decision of the Supreme Court in the case of 1-United Transport Koalisyon vs Comelec.

In its ruling, the SC struck down for being unconstitutional the Comelec’s prohibition on the posting and displaying of any election campaign or propaganda material on public utility vehicles such as buses, jeepneys, trains, taxi cabs, ferries, pedicabs and tricycles.

The prohibition also applied to the premises of public transport terminals, such as bus terminals, airports, seaports, docks, piers, train stations, and the like.

The high tribunal explained that the prohibition ran counter to the Constitution as it infringes on the fundamental right of the people, including PUV owners and transport terminals, to free speech.

“Central to the prohibition is the freedom of individuals, i.e., the owners of PUVs and private transport terminals, to express their pre-ference, through the posting of election campaign material in their property, and convince others to agree with them,” read part of the SC decision promulgated April 14 last year.

Castillano also said that though campaign materials are already displayed even before the start of campaign period, it is no longer considered as premature campaigning.

Citing the SC ruling in the case of Rosalinda Penera versus Comelec, Castillano said premature campaigning is already out from the statute book because candidates will only be considered as such at the start of the campaign period and that any violation of the Fair Election Act will take effect only upon the start of the campaign period.

The campaign period for candidates for president, vice president, senator and partylist groups will be from February 9 to May 7. For local candidates, campaign period is from March 25 until May 7.

Castillano said the poll body has yet to craft new implementing rules for the upcoming May 9 elections since they could no longer adopt what was promulgated in 2013 due to the recent SC decisions. — (FREEMAN)

CAMPAIGN CASTILLANO COMELEC FAIR ELECTION ACT NBSP PERIOD PROVINCIAL ELECTION SUPERVISOR LIONEL MARCO CASTILLANO PUBLIC ROSALINDA PENERA SUPREME COURT UNITED TRANSPORT KOALISYON
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