The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Monday welcomed Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago’s initiative in filing a bill to prevent public officials from engaging in self-promotion during the months leading up to an election campaign period.
Election Commissioner Rene Sarmiento said Santiago’s bill would help plug the loophole created by the landmark decision of the Supreme Court on the Peñera v Comelec case in 2009, which virtually erased the concept of premature campaigning as an election offense.
“The decision said it was covered by the freedom of expression so we had a vacuum in the law,” Sarmiento told reporters Monday.
He said this loophole had been widely abused by would-be candidates. “I think this has to be regulated,” he added.
“Personally, I think the bill is a welcome move… it will help minimize promotional activities by potential candidates,” he also said.
Santiago earlier said she would file a measure that would require would-be candidates to file a certificate of intent to run for public office (Cirpo) six months before the Comelec’s schedule for the filing of certificates of candidacy.
The certificate will be a requirement before an election hopeful could file his or her certificate of candidacy, according to the senator.
Upon filing of the Cirpo, the would-be candidate would be barred from endorsing products or services, appear on television as product or service endorsers, as media talents or writers, and engage in any activities that the Comelec considers premature campaigning.
Sarmiento said he had yet to read the details of the bill for him to give suggestions but the “spirit of the proposal should be welcome to all Filipinos.”