The Commission on Elections asked the public to help them spot illegal campaign paraphernalia through hashtag #SumbongsaCOMELEC amid the official start of the campaign period on February 12.
Those who will report should take a photo of the material, post it on social media using the hashtag and indicate the violation. Users can report to Comelec’s accounts on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
— COMELEC (@COMELEC) February 11, 2019
Comelec Spokesperson James Jimenez had also been calling out posters and tarpaulins that do not abide by election rules stated in the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Fair Election Act.
— James Jimenez (@jabjimenez) February 11, 2019
Given the lack of measure on premature campaigning, Jimenez said that the poll body can only impose sanctions during this period until the night before Election Day.
“Premature campaigning, hindi naman talaga nagbabawal ng batas ‘yan. So pinapabayaan natin. Ang problema, pag pasok ng campaign period, bawal na ‘yan. At karamihan sa mga nakapaskil sa kanila, in violation of our campaign rules,” he said.
Jimenez has previously warned political candidates that they should remove or take down unlawful campaign materials before February 12.
These include TV shows and movies that depict the life of political candidates.
“If the materials are still up after the start of the campaign period, then it can be presumed they are up because candidates allow them to remain up. It is clear that they are benefitting from the presence of these materials and that might be a way to hold them liable,” he said.
The education and information division of the poll body launched Operation Baklas to monitor and remove such paraphernalia. This initiative is in coordination with officials of the Department of Public Works and Highways and Metro Manila Development Authority.
Jimenez also said that they have already advised political parties and aspirants that they can be disqualified should unlawful propaganda endorsing their names be up during the campaign period.
Despite being warned, some users still spot a lot of posters on electric posts and other hazardous areas.
— 🌀 Tyrone Oragone (@Tikoymanstur) February 11, 2019
Lawful and unlawful campaign propaganda
In section 6 of the IRR of the Fair Election Act, a campaign poster made of cloth, paper, cardboard or any material is considered legal if it has an area not exceeding two feet by three feet.
Streamers should also not exceed three by eight feet and should only be displayed during a public meeting of the candidates or rally. They can be posted five days before the event and should be removed within 24 hours after it.
It is also up to Comelec’s election officers to decide the common poster areas in each locality.
In general, public places that the poll body does not authorize as common poster areas include publicly-owned electronic announcement boards along highways and streets, state-owned vehicles, public transport vehicles, waiting sheds, street and lamp posts, electric posts, schools, health centers and government offices.
Moreover, putting up of any poster on private properties is prohibited unless the owners gave permission.
The campaign period for national candidates is on February 12 while local candidates can start on March 29.