Comelec reminds bets: Premature campaigning may lead to disqualification
COTABATO CITY – Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chair George Garcia on Thursday reminded aspirants in the 2023 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE) about early campaigning that candidates may knowingly or unknowingly perform before the official period.
Speaking during the 1st Regional Coordinating Conference here with officials and representatives from the Bangsamoro Region, Armed Forces and police, election officials, and other stakeholders, Garcia said the moment candidates filed their certificates of candidacy (COCs), their actions may be construed as “early campaigning.”
“When an aspirant has already filed his/her candidacy and yet their campaign posters are already displayed, that is already premature campaigning, even if it’s in a private place,” Garcia told attendees of the summit.
“If she/he has not displayed posters, he/she did not roam around shaking hands of people, but they are doing it now after filing, that is premature campaigning,” he said.
The poll chair also said it is premature campaigning when a candidate who already filed his COC is very visible in public gatherings, shaking hands with people, and giving small items like leaflets, shirts, and facemasks.
Garcia then urged candidates to file complaints if they have evidence of premature campaigning being done by some candidates, which could earn them disqualification.
“How about incumbent village chairs implementing government programs and projects? Well, that is not premature campaigning,” Garcia said.
“But if the incumbent seeking reelection suddenly manages the traffic flow in the village on a regular basis, something that he was not doing in the past, that is premature campaigning,” he said. “If he/she goes house-to-house even not telling people to vote him/her but simply visiting for a brief chat about social issues, that is premature campaigning.”
“If the aspirants, after filing COCs have dramatically increased their exposures to social media like ‘TikTok’ or Facebook with their faces and slogan in it, is considered premature campaigning,” the poll chief said.
The campaign period for BSKE 2023 will be from October 19 to October 28.
“Before that campaign period, all the acts of candidates may be considered premature campaigning if it aims to influence voters, directly or indirectly,” he said.