Rules on campaign giveaways not clear, says Comelec
MANILA, Philippines—The Commission on Elections (Comelec) admitted Wednesday that its rules on campaign giveaways, such as the reported cellphones thrown to the crowd during a campaign rally in Valenzuela, were unclear but said that “there is something wrong with it definitely.”
“Our rules are not clear on giveaways or election gimmicks,” Brillantes told reporters Wednesday in a press conference.
“But when it’s too expensive it’s no longer an election gimmick. In a sense it becomes vote buying when [the giveaways reach] a certain [price value],” he said.
Martell Soledad, a candidate for councilor in Valenzuela City, had reportedly thrown into the crowd six cellphones in white boxes during a campaign rally Sunday.
“There is something wrong with it definitely,” Brillantes said.
Giveaways were prohibited before under Section 85 of the Omnibus Election Code, “but it was amended and it now allows the giving of shirts, lighters, small items,” he said.
When asked what the price limit should be, Brillantes said it will be one of the issues the Comelec en banc would take up.
He said the price threshold was what they needed to determine whether certain items being given away constitute vote buying.
“If [candidates] give away cars, that is definitely vote buying. Cellphones that are expensive can also be taken as vote buying,” Brillantes said.
Senatorial candidate Maria Ana Consuelo “Jamby” Madrigal previously caught the eye of the Comelec when she promised to give away an Apple iPad in an online contest on her Facebook page.
The contest has since been halted and Madrigal’s case is still with the Comelec law department.
Brillantes said that in this case of cellphones being given away, the Comelec can conduct an investigation moto propio but they encourage that complaints be filed.
“In all issues of vote buying, as much as possible there should be evidence,” Brillantes said.
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