The proposal to extend the campaign period will only favor moneyed candidates such as Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas 2nd, opposition lawmakers said Wednesday.
House Deputy Minority Leader Neri Colmenares of Bayan Muna party-list and Emmi de Jesus of Gabriela party-list made the warning after the Commission on Elections (Comelec) proposed to extend the campaign period to 120 days from 90 days for national and local candidates.
“That would only be advantageous to the moneyed candidates. If you don’t have the money, then you’ll be drowning in your opponents’ resources. Imagine the number of advertisements that could air in 45 days? How much more if we add more days? Meanwhile, it would also be disadvantageous to the people because nobody will attend to the duties of incumbent candidates anymore,” Colmenares said.
“And with higher expenses, there is a higher tendency of committing corruption,” he added.
De Jesus said a longer campaign period will be most advantageous to Roxas, the standard-bearer of the ruling Liberal Party (LP).
“This longer campaign period means burning a lot of money. They want to ensure Roxas’ victory so they want a longer time to campaign and spend money,” de Jesus said.
But for Rep. Sherwin Gatchalian of Valenzuela City, an extended campaign period is not all bad especially for those seeking national posts.
“It would be impossible for those running for president, vice president and senator to go around the entire country for only three months or 90 days as provided under the Omnibus Election Code,” Gatchalian pointed out.
Rep. Elpidio Barzaga agreed with Gatchalian.
“That is actually a very good proposal in order that all the presidential candidates will have sufficient time to explain their programs to the electorate,” Barzaga said.
The Omnibus Election Code allows the Comelec to adjust the calendar of activities during elections “if it shall no longer be reasonably possible to observe the periods and dates prescribed by law for certain pre-election acts…to ensure accomplishment of the activities so voters shall not be deprived of their suffrage.”