Gordon to Comelec: Look into law violations
SENATOR Richard Gordon urged the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to look into probable violations of the Omnibus Election Code (OEC), particularly on premature campaigning.
Gordon, chairman of the Senate blue ribbon panel, made the call to Comelec officials who attended the Senate inquiry on the reported breakup of Smartmatic Corp. and Total Information Management, Corp., which almost dashed the country’s dream of having an automated election in May 2010.
“There should be a moral ascendant institution such as the Comelec. When you are violating the law objectionably, scandalously, even if you have all that money and more importantly, if people are using government money to advertise themselves, it is time the Comelec step in and say we’re going to do what is right,” he said.
Gordon, father of election modernization in the country, pointed out that the Comelec should pinpoint which provisions of our election code limit them from going after premature campaigners who are already spending huge amounts for television ads alone 11 months before the elections.
“One who has expressed intention of running in the next elections spends P321 million for TV ads and sponsors surveys that he tops, is evidently already campaigning. When an elected official is using government funds for his TV ads, that is a blatant violation of the law. I am the chairman of the blue ribbon committee and I’m saying that reeks of malfeasance,” he said.
“These people are insulting our citizens and are flouting the law. Do they really expect us to believe that their expenditures which amount to hundreds of millions just for TV is not campaigning? Comelec and the people should wake up because this is really meant to manipulate the surveys,” he added.
For their part, Comelec officials agreed with the senator, saying that early campaign, like pornography, which is not easily defined but can be identified as such when seen; however, they are limited by the OEC, because it only prohibits campaigning outside the campaign period when a candidate has already filed a certificate of candidacy.
Sec. 80 of the OEC provides that it shall be unlawful for any person, whether or not a voter or candidate, or for any party, or association of persons, to engage in an election campaign or partisan political activity except during the campaign period.
However, Sec. 79 (a) of the same code defines candidate as a person aspiring for or seeking an elective public office, who has filed a certificate of candidacy by himself or through an accredited political party or coalition of parties. By: Marlon Purificacion - Journal online