Is premature electioneering illegal?

Maria Romero
PUBLISHED July 16, 2018 04:26 pm
Graphics by Laila Villamor

(Inside Manila) Proliferation of premature campaign materials extolled with the face of Special Assistant to the President Christopher “Bong” Go has triggered rage among concerned netizens that resulted in #TanggalBongGoPosters movement on social media.

The hashtag sought to pressure Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) to remove the eyesore and “epal” campaign materials. But is it really illegal to post early campaign materials?

The omnipotent posters and activities of aspiring office-bearers eyeing elective posts in next year’s midterm polls, known as premature campaigning, may have irritated you but those aren’t exactly illegal according to Supreme Court (SC). 

SC Spokesperson Theodore Te said that early campaigns are no longer considered as election offense. This is based on 2009 SC verdict on the disqualification case of then mayor Rosalinda Penera of Sta. Monica, Surigao del Norte in 2007 midterm elections against rival, Edgar Andanar.

This means that personalities such as SAP Bong Go who have started campaigning early, despite refusal to admit the deed, do not violate the Automated Election Law or Republic Act 8436 as amended by RA 9369.

Te stressed that the new election law amendment effectively revoked Section 80 of the Omnibus Election Code that forbids candidates from campaigning ahead of the prescribed period.

Under the new rule, infomercials, banners, and posters are reflected as “exercise of freedom of expression” by aspirants.

SC also added that the sole purpose of early candidacy filing was to give the Commission on Elections more time to process and print official ballots.

With this end, questions are left hanging: Why are we raging over Bong Go’s banners when it is legally allowed by law? Or is it about time to impose firmer laws making premature electioneering illegal?

Share us your thoughts about this law amendment!



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