Santiago bill will put an end to premature campaigningBy Norman Bordadora
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago said she will file a bill that would keep public officials from engaging in premature image-building months before a mandated election campaign period.
Santiago said the bill would require would-be candidates to file a certificate of intent to run for public office (Cirpo) six months before the deadline for the filing of certificates of candidacy.
“It will be mandatory to file the Cirpo, otherwise the person will be declared ineligible to file a certificate of candidacy,” said Santiago in a symposium at the Eulogio “Amang” Rodriguez Institute of Science and Technology in Manila.
“Once a person files his certificate, he falls under all the legal prohibitions against premature campaigning,” she said.
The bill shall prevent any person who has filed a Cirpo from engaging in the following: Endorsing any product or service, paid or unpaid; accepting any employment in any media outfit as news anchor, writer or talent; buying media space to advertise himself or a product or service, and engaging in any activity that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) considers premature campaigning.
“Under the present situation, it is legal to engage in premature campaigning. But not all that is legal is ethical,” Santiago pointed out.
She said her bill would also abolish the provision in the Poll Automation Law that provides that “any person who files his certificate of candidacy shall only be considered a candidate at the start of the campaign period for which he filed his certificate of candidacy.”
The loophole allows politicians to engage in premature campaigning even before the Comelec-mandated campaign period because they are not yet considered official candidates until the campaign period begins.
“Since it is not yet the campaign period, the ‘senatoriables’ appearing in media advertisements are not yet considered candidates and, hence, they can start to campaign. This is preposterous, ridiculous and ludicrous,” Santiago said.