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An elderly man fills out a form as candidates started trooping to the Commission on Elections here to comply with the election requirements. The last day for the filing of certificates of candidacy is April 20. (photo by nitz arancon)

Rule on premature campaigning flawed: Comelec exec

By JOEY NACALABAN
Correspondent .

THE Commission on Elections won’t be able to go after potential candidates for next month’s elections for premature campaigning unless they have filed their certificates of candidacy.

Comelec regional director Renato Magbutay said this even as he pointed out that holding community dialogues of “pulong-pulong” and medical missions cannot be considered premature campaigning if those behind these activities have not yet been officially recognized as candidates by the Commission.

But Magbutay said propriety dicates that such should not be the case because, for incumbent officials, that would be seen as using their positions to have undue advantage over others who are interested on seeking barangay positions.

Technically, however, those who are behind community dialogues or caucuses and outreach programs cannot be held liable unless they have become official candidates, he said.

“Actually, di man gyud unta na puede kay klaro man na nga mudagan sila isip kandidato sa ilang lugar but daghan man gud paagi sa pag-circumvent sa balaod,” Magbutay added.

He blamed the “loophole” on politicians who  approved flawed provisions in the election law.

From the start of the filing of certificates of candidacy in May 14 up to May 20, no political gatherings are allowed to be organized by candidates, Magbutay said.

Marlo Tabac, Gusa’s barangay chairman, said candidates and even those who have yet to file their certificates of candidacy should refrain from organizing “pulong-pulong” and medical outreach programs because these activities would always be seen as politicking even if those behind these activities have yet to be recognized as official candidates.

“Sensitive kaayo ko anang rules and regulations sa Comelec og mga prohibited acts nga nalatid diha sa Omnibus Election Code,” Tabac said.

Bonnie Caytuna, a candidate in Macabalan, said caucuses have been organized in the barangay.

“Pero kana mao ang paghisgot-hisgot sa problema sa among barangay ug pagpa ila-ila lang sa mga molopyo nga sa among line up,” Caytuna said.

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