THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) has directed all candidates to tear down their campaign materials posted outside designated common poster areas before the campaign period starts or face charges for violation of election laws.
Chairman Juan Andres Bautista on Tuesday said national and local candidates have until February 8, 2016 to remove their posters or streamers. The campaign period officially starts on February 9.
Bautista warned that candidates whose campaign streamers or billboards are found outside designated poster areas face imprisonment of up to six years without probation, disqualification from the political race, disqualification to hold public office and deprivation of the right to suffrage.
Bautista encouraged the public to take photos of errant posters, provide details like location, the candidate involved, date and time and report it to the Comelec.
“We are embarking on a shame campaign with the involvement of the citizenry. A viral photo would greatly affect one’s campaign because it would show that he or she is violating the law,” the Comelec chief said.
“I advise all concerned to voluntarily remove their posters, billboard and other materials. Don’t wait for the MMDA [Metropolitan Manila Development Authority] or DPWH[Department of Public Works and Highways] and face charges for violation of election laws,” he added.
Candidates can post their campaign materials on private property provided that these comply with the allowed size and the posting of such materials has approval of the owner of the property.
Bautista pointed out that candidates are prohibited from appearing on commercial advertisements and other forms of endorsementsduring the campaign period.
He issued the warning after signing of two separate memoranda of agreement deputizing the DPWH and the MMDA as lead agencies of the Comelec’s “Operation Baklas.”
The MMDA and DPWH will start tearing down all campaign materials outside of designated common areas at the start of the campaign period.
At the same time, the Comelec will start monitoring election expenses of all candidates to ensure their compliance with the Omnibus Election Code (OEC).
Posting of campaign materials on trees and plants as well as the excessive use of plastic and unrecyclable materials and irresponsible disposal of campaign materials also constitute an election offense.
Under the law, candidates for President and Vice President are only allowed to spend P10 for every registered voter; for other candidates, P3 per registered voter; for independent candidates, P5; and for political parties and party-list groups, P5.
Election propaganda, whether on television, radio, newspaper, the Internet or any other medium, is allowed but subject to limitation on authorized expenses.
Candidates for national positions are allowed no more than 120 minutes of television advertising and 180 minutes of radio advertising per station.
Local bets are allowed no more than 60 minutes of television advertising, and 90 minutes for radio.