Like Christmas, election bonanzas come early to votersBy Norman Bordadora
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Not the voters looking forward to holiday presents from politicians who have formally expressed their desire to run for the House, the Senate and local elective posts next year.
Last week’s filing of certificates of candidacy (COCs) could well be the start of the Christmas holidays for those expecting gifts and favors from election hopefuls, according to the campaign manager of the Liberal Party-led coalition.
Sen. Franklin Drilon on Saturday said local politicians who have firmed up their candidacies with last week’s filing of COCs are now at the mercy of their constituents who need various forms of assistance at a time nearer to Christmas than the campaign period, which does not start until the summer months of 2013.
“On the local level, this must be quite costly because as early as now, you already know who the candidates are. Eh ’di marami nang mamamasko sa ’yo (Many would already start coming to you for Christmas gifts),” Drilon told the Inquirer.
Pressure on local bets
Drilon said senatorial candidates are not that exposed to such requests from the electorate as those running for positions in the provincial, city and municipal governments and for seats in the House of Representatives.
“It’s not so much in the national level. But on the local level you can imagine the pressure on the local candidates. Their constituents would ask favors from them,” Drilon said.
The automation of the country’s elections has made it imperative that COCs be filed before the year ends to give enough time for the screening of candidates and for the printing of their names on the ballots meant for the counting machines.
Before the recent election automation, the filing of COCs is scheduled shortly before the campaign period—way after Christmas.
Next year’s elections make the candidates gift-giving more a necessity for their political future.
“As they say, Christmas came early. But that is the reality of the situation given the very early filing of the certificates of candidacy,” Drilon said.
Drilon said those with a sizeable campaign kitty would have the advantage with the long period of time between the filing of COCs and the elections in May.
“Admittedly, those with substantial campaign funds can take advantage of the situation,” Drilon said.
With no more prohibition against premature campaigning, candidates on the administration coalition’s slate are expected to start going around the country to introduce themselves to the electorate.
Time for exposure
“On the part of the party, we will be preparing the infrastructure for the whole campaign. But individually, I’m sure the candidates take advantage of this period to expose themselves in speaking engagements and other activities in order to improve their chances of winning in May,” Drilon said.
“You cannot prevent interviews. You cannot prevent candidates from accepting speaking engagements. Whether or not you interpret that as campaigning is beside the point because until the campaign period, you cannot be charged of illegal campaigning,” he added.
Drilon said it is still too early to assess the local candidates of the LP-led coalition because substitutions are still expected until December.
On the other hand, Drilon said, the senatorial slate is as good as done.