THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) doesn’t seem to find anything wrong with the thousands of streamers and tarpaulins sprawling in densely populated cities and municipalities in the country.
In a television interview, Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said that paraphernalia urging the President’s daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, to run in the 2022 polls do not violate election laws.
“Technically, there is no violation because in order for premature campaigning to be committed there should be an official candidate,” Jimenez said.
“And no official candidate exists right now. In fact, we are not even filing the certificate of candidacy yet. So, since there is no official candidate, there can be no crime or should we say offense of premature campaigning,” he added.
The “Run Sara Run” banners, he added, is just “a matter of free expression.”
“These people have the right to actually promote the candidacy of anyone that they want. They could put up a banner that says ‘Christian Run’ and it won’t make a difference because it’s a matter of free expression,” he continued.
Admittedly though, the fact that streamers and tarpaulins that bear the presidential daughter’s name and pictures could actually have an effect in the next elections, should the young Duterte decide to push with the Palace bid, he averred.
“You are putting a premium on the ability to go out and campaign this early, which means you have a bigger war chest, which means you have more money, which means that ultimately candidates with more resources are in a better position to win the election,” he said.
“So, I think people should reject candidates who are campaigning this early or who are tolerating other people campaigning in their name even if they haven’t yet filed their certificate of candidacy.”
Section 13 of Republic Act 9369 states that a person is only considered an official candidate at the start of the campaign period: “Any person who files his certificate of candidacy within this period shall only be considered as a candidate at the start of the campaign period for which he filed his certificate of candidacy.”
Duterte has already warded off reports dragging Sara Duterte as his heir apparent.
“Inday Sara is not running. I have really, really put my foot down. Naaawa ako sa anak ko. Ang politiko dito, kababuyan,” he said in a briefing in Tandag City, Surigao del Sur.