Philippine election period starts Sunday

14-Jan-2019 Intellasia | GMA News | 6:00 AM Print This Post

The election period for May’s midterm polls will start on Sunday, placing the country under a firearms ban and likely inspiring an increase of candidate visibility even before campaign season officially kicks off, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said.

“The start of the election period is the official start of election fever,” Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said at a Friday press briefing.

May 13 will see the election of new senators, members of the House of Representatives, and local government officials. The presidential and vice presidential elections will be held in 2022.

Filipinos voting from abroad, numbering to 1.7 million, can vote either in person or by post, and their votes will be counted either manually or by vote-counting machine, Jimenez said.

Comelec checkpoints will be put up beginning midnight of January 13, Jimenez said.

Such checkpoints have to be located in well-lit areas, clearly marked, and bear the names and contact details of the election officer and police officer in charge. Personnel manning the checkpoints have to be in proper uniform, he said.

He also explained that under the plain view doctrine, motorists cannot be forced to open vehicle compartments and bags for inspecting police officers at checkpoints.

However, “if something is in plain view and it arouses reasonable suspicion, then the police can do something other than just look,” he said.

Also starting January 13, carrying firearms and deadly weapons will be prohibited unless owners who face “verified” threats to their safety secure exemption, Jimenez said.

Individuals whose nature of employment requires firearms for safety and security, including high-ranking government officials, from the president to the leaders of the constitutional commissions, as well as politicians, candidates, and even treasurers who transport payroll may also apply for exemption, he said.

Campaign period

The official campaign period will not start until February 13, and while “premature campaigning” is not illegal, Jimenez said the Comelec will advise candidates to take down campaign materials that have already been posted two or three days before the campaign period begins.

“You will be informed of the materials that you need to take down and you need to take them down regardless of their size and location. Let’s start the campaign period with a relatively clean environment,” the spokesman said.

If campaign materials that violate Comelec rules remain after the start of the campaign period, “it will be presumed that it is remaining there with the consent of the candidate himself.”

“I think 2019 is the year of innovative campaign strategies for sure,” Jimenez said, after briefly discussing how women’s underwear being used as campaign materialwhich recently went viral onlineis “culturally sensitive” compared to other articles of clothing.

“Ultimately, as far as the law is concerned, there does not seem to be any sort of fundamental reason for making it more unacceptable than, say, a printed t-shirt,” he said.

The spokesman said as a standard practice, the Comelec has requested the deputisation of police and military personnel so they may assist in the elections if necessary.

Police and military forces will be trained so they can “maintain a presence in polling places” should they be needed, he said.

Even Philippine National Police Academy cadets may be trained so they can perform a “limited role” under “extreme circumstances,” such as if electoral boards do not show up on election day, he added.


Category: Philippines

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