NAMFREL launches online ‘shaming’ vs. early campaigners

Marlon Garcia of Smartmatic Corporation shows the use of a Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machine at the Commission on Elections (Comelec) headquarters in Manila on Tuesday. Use of the PCOS in the 2016 elections is still up in the air after the Supreme Court voided Comelec's maintenance contract with Smartmatic last April.(MNS photo)

Marlon Garcia of Smartmatic Corporation shows the use of a Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machine at the Commission on Elections (Comelec) headquarters in Manila on Tuesday. Use of the PCOS in the 2016 elections is still up in the air after the Supreme Court voided Comelec’s maintenance contract with Smartmatic last April. (MNS photo)

MANILA (Mabuhay) – The National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL) has launched a drive against “overeager” politicians engaging in premature campaigning for the 2016 elections.

NAMFREL came up with a Facebook page “Election 2016 Pampams,” which will show photos and videos of politicians promoting themselves in various ways, among them greetings on tarpaulins or announcement of government projects, and even paid advertisement on television and radio.

“Most page postings are on flagrant violations by local and prospective candidates,” NAMFREL said in a statement.

The group also invited citizens to send photos and videos to their Facebook page, or via Twitter using the hashtag #pampam.

Meanwhile, Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) president, has issued a statement as an early reminder to voters “while politicians plan and strategize, and, this early, find ways of circumventing the law against premature campaigning.”

In the statement, Villegas reminded Catholic and Christian voters to “vote for the right reasons,” including rejecting “the notoriously corrupt,” ending political dynasties, and asking the right questions.

However, he also called on the voters not to “jump on the bandwagon” of condemning officials “in the absence of incontrovertible evidence.”

The Commission on Elections has said they cannot penalize potential candidates for premature campaining because it is “not a legal issue.”

In an interview, Comelec commissioner Luie Tito Guia said it is up to the public to judge the candidates who do this.

“Ipasa natin sa taumbayan,” he said. “Is it something that is welcome? Is it in good taste?”

Article X, Section 80 of the Omnibus Election Code says, “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, Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez has said that election laws already ruled out premature campaigning as an offense, partly because the Supreme Court has ruled that one’s candidacy becomes official only within the campaign period. (MNS)

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