Comelec’s Commitment to Ban Premature Campaigning in 2025

Comelec Chairman George Erwin Garcia
Spread the love

Saying that it does not want a repeat of the Maguindanao Massacre, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has vowed to use its full power and constitutional authority to ensure that the 2025 polls in the Philippines will be clean, honest, and peaceful.

Comelec Chairman George Erwin Garcia called on all prospective candidates in 2025 to adhere to election laws, particularly the law against premature campaigning. He warned that the commission will not only file cases against violators but also prevent them from being proclaimed if they win.

The Maguindanao Massacre, a tragic incident that occurred in November 2009 during the period for filing the certificate of candidacy (CoC), serves as a haunting reminder of the need for strict enforcement of election regulations. During that time, fifty-eight people, including 34 journalists, were kidnapped and killed by heavily armed men led by then Datu Unsay mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr. These individuals were on their way to Shariff Aguak to file the CoC for Esmael Mangudadatu, who was running for governor of the then undivided Maguindanao.

To prevent a similar incident in 2025, Chairman Garcia emphasized that the Comelec will once again strictly enforce the ban on premature campaigning, despite a Supreme Court ruling against it. He acknowledged the challenges in preventing premature campaigning, stating, “How can you prevent it? We cannot even set up a checkpoint [because Comelec has no jurisdiction yet on candidates during the filing of CoC].”

In the case of Penera v. Comelec, the Supreme Court reversed its decision, disqualifying Sta. Monica, Surigao del Norte, Mayor Rosalinda Penera as a candidate in the 2007 elections for violating Section 80 of the Omnibus Election Code, which prohibits premature campaigning. As a result of this court decision, individuals who filed their CoC could only be considered as candidates at the start of the campaign season, which begins in February for national candidates and March for local candidates.

Chairman Garcia affirmed that the Comelec will once again ban premature campaigning, just as it did during the October 2023 village and youth polls. During that time, the commission suspended the proclamation of 53 candidates and issued show-cause orders to 7,500 other candidates accused of premature campaigning.

The chairman highlighted the dangers associated with premature campaigning, including the potential for vote buying and the proliferation of illegal firearms. He emphasized the Comelec’s commitment to prevent such activities, stating, “We will not allow it. Comelec doesn’t like to be powerless from the filing of the certificate of candidacy in October up to the start of the campaign season in February for national candidates and March for local candidates.”

While Chairman Garcia stated that the Comelec would not seek clarification from the Supreme Court on its ruling, he added that the commission would respect the decision of the Court if somebody ever files a case.

In conclusion, the Comelec’s commitment to ensuring clean, honest, and peaceful elections in 2025 is driven by the tragic lessons learned from the Maguindanao Massacre. By strictly enforcing the ban on premature campaigning and taking action against violators, the commission aims to prevent a repeat of such incidents. Chairman Garcia’s call for prospective candidates to follow election laws serves as a reminder of the importance of upholding the integrity of the electoral process. Through these efforts, the Comelec aims to uphold the trust of the Filipino people and maintain the democratic values upon which the nation is built.

Source: The Manila Times

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *