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Comelec Urged: Stop Premature Campaigning; Permit Needed For Political Motorcades – MMDA

Comelec Urged: Stop Premature Campaigning; Permit Needed For Political Motorcades –  MMDA

Poll watchdog Kontra Daya has called on the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to stop political gatherings and premature campaigning among candidates running in the May 2022 elections.

Kontra Daya convenor Danilo Arao said the Comelec should take action against those engaging in electioneering and blatantly violating election rules.

“Comelec should step up and not be confined to legal technicalities on premature campaigning,” Arao stressed. “It should not hesitate to publicly call out and warn those who engage in de facto campaigning as early as now.”

Motorcades and other mass gatherings of supporters of certain candidates, Arao said, are tantamount to electioneering.

“The color-coded motorcades and public gatherings at this time are meant to project support for certain candidates,” Arao pointed out.

According to Arao, Kontra Daya strongly opposed various forms of premature campaigning, especially if it involves government funds and resources.

Some presidential and vice presidential candidates have been going around the country meeting with their supporters.

Aside from caravans and motorcades, campaign posters of candidates are also seen in various parts of the country.

On social media, there are also a lot of videos and posts by and related to the candidates.

Under Republic Act (RA) No. 9369 or the Poll Automation Law, “any person who files his certificate of candidacy shall only be considered as a candidate at the start of the campaign period.”

But the Comelec had said it cannot stop “aspiring candidates” from promoting themselves ahead of the elections as no law prohibits premature campaigning.

RA 9369 also states that “unlawful acts or omissions applicable to a candidate shall take effect only upon the start of the aforesaid campaign period.”

Permit needed

On Sunday, Oct. 24, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority reminded candidates and supporters who will be conducting motorcades in Metro Manila to first get a permit from the agency.

In an interview with dzBB, MMDA lawyer Nesauro Firme said despite an Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) resolution allowing motorcades under Alert Level 3, permits should still be secured.

“The permit from the MMDA should still be sought (for motorcades), so we could assess traffic management where the motorcade would be conducted. This is so the motorcade would not disturb them or our motorists,” Firme said.

In recent days, several motorcades and caravans were conducted in Metro Manila to show support for presidential aspirants.

Firme said they would not restrict the people’s freedom of assembly or expression because of permits, but “what we are asking is they should connect with us so that the flow of traffic would be fixed.”

He also asked those in motorcades to prevent using the major thoroughfares in the metropolis as this could result in heavy traffic.

Improve voting process

Meanwhile, after a voting simulation held last Saturday, Oct. 23, Comelec is asking the public on how to improve the voting process for next year’s national and local elections.

“The voting simulation exercise for the #NLE2022 has just concluded! We want to know how we can further improve the voting experience for you,” the Comelec posted on social media.

“Kindly send us your suggestions on how we can improve the voting process for the May 9, 2022 National and Local Elections,” the Comelec added.

The online link to the form where people may give their suggestions is on a pinned post on the agency’s Facebook page at facebook.com/comelec.ph.

From the simulation activity held in San Juan City, Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said they learned, among other things, the people’s tendency to come early and late in the voting hours.

Jimenez said the Voters’ Assistance Desk in voting centers is also expected to help shorten the voting process.

Also last Saturday, the Department of Health (DOH) urged the Comelec to take measures to ensure a shorter voting process.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said a shorter voting process is necessary to prevent the possible transmission of COVID.

“Our recommendation is that people should not congregate. The process should be fast and efficient so that people won’t crowd each other when this happens,” Vergeire said in Filipino during the “Laging Handa” public briefing.