Chairman Andres Bautista of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Tuesday said there is no provision in the Omnibus Election Code that prohibits lewd performances in election-related events.
“The Ombibus Election Code has nothing on obscenity, lewd or acts of lascivousness,” Bautista, a former law school dean, told a news conference.
“We will act on it if a complaint is filed, but any complaint must be based on a legal ground, so the complainant must cite what are the legal grounds here,” he said.
Bautista was answering a question on the controversy involving an allegedly lewd performance of an all-female dance group during the oath-taking ceremony of the Liberal Party that was held simultaneously with the birthday celebration of Laguna Rep. Benjamin Agarao last week.
The incident drew flak from the public after video footage and pictures of the provocative intermission number went viral in social media.
It has also placed the senatorial candidacy of Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chairman Francis Tolentino in peril after it was claimed that he hired the dance group to perform in the event as a “gift” to Agarao.
Tolentino has denied the allegation.
Commissioner Christian Robert Lim, however, said the controversy could fall within the ambit of the Revised Penal Code.
Bautista said the poll body would still act on any complaint if the petitioner could cite a legal basis.
Filing of COC
Bautista said they are all set for the scheduled five-day period of filing of certificates of candidacy (COC), which he said is the unofficial start of the campaign period for next year’s elections.
“Next week is very important for us. It’s the unofficial start of campaign period. Aside from our objective of enhancing the voting process, we are also working to enhance the filing process for certificate of candidacy. Comelec is expecting a deluge of candidates and their supporters,” he said.
According to the Comelec chief, specific areas have been identified where candidates could go to file their COC.
There will also be designated areas for the media but journalists are prohibited from conducting interviews while a candidate is filing his or her COC.
A stage will also be set up at the back of the Palacio del Governador in Intramuros, Manila, where the Comelec’s main office is located and where media interviews could be conducted.
Television monitors will also be set up outside the Palacio to enable supporters of candidates to see what is happening inside the building.
Under Comelec guidelines, a candidate can only bring along three companions during the filing of his or her COC.
“A candidate is entitled to bring three companions. They can be his or her immediately family or lawyer or whoever,” Bautista said.
Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said security personnel have been instructed to strictly implement the three-companion rule for candidates.
Still no biometrics
More than 3 million voters could be disenfranchised for not having their biometric data registered.
As of July 2015, Comelec records showed that some 3.7 million voters have either incomplete or no biometrics at all.
All voters are required by law to undergo biometric registration, otherwise they will not be allowed to vote in the 2016 local and national elections.
The 15-month voters registration is winding up by the end of October.
Voters who fail to have their biometric data validated would be automatically deactivated from the voters’ list.
The Comelec en banc also on Tuesday turned down a petition to extend by another week the October 31 registration deadline but decided to extend the business hours of offices serving as registration centers from eight to 12 hours from October 17 to 31.
Bautista attributed the slow registration turnout to the Filipinos so-called mañana or last-minute habit.