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Comelec reminds candidates to observe airtime limits to avoid election offense

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Tuesday, 12 February 2019 10:58 AM

QUEZON CITY, Philippines – National candidates for the 2019 midterm elections have started their campaign trails as the official campaign period kicks off Tuesday (February 12).

With this, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has reminded candidates to observe proper campaign rules to avoid committing an election offense.

In an interview with Daniel Razon on UNTV’s Digital Interactive Broadcast on Tuesday, Comelec Spokesperson Director James Jimenez emphasized that the poll body will be strictly monitoring campaign ads on televesion, radio, print and even on social media.

Jimenez reminded candidates to be careful in gracing requests for appearance as they might fall into political advertising which can be counted against them.

Under Comelec Resolution 10488 in line with R.A. 9006 or the Fair Elections Act, candidates and registered political parties running for national elective position are given “not more than a total of 120 minutes of television advertising and 180 minutes of radio advertising.”

Candidates for local elective positions, meanwhile, are given “not more than 60 minutes of television advertising and 90 minutes of radio advertising”.

“Ang problema, nagagamit ang mga interviews, mga guesting para kunwari hindi siya ad. Kunwari interview nga siya o guest spot siya. There are cases na pwedeng ituring na parang advertising din iyon. Pangkaraniwan, ang pinakabroad na generalization natin dito is that it’s non-news,” Jimenez explained.

Jimenez clarified that interviews for news purposes are not considered campaigning.

However, the case is different for ‘non-news’ event.

“Halimbawa, may mahalagang event na relevenat naman sa kandidato, tapos na-interview siya tungkol doon, pwede kasing news event iyon. May sunog sa area niya, i-interview siya, hindi magiging isyu iyon,” he said.

“Pero kapag halimbawa niyaya siya sa isang variety show, that’s not a news event. Ituturing iyon na broadcast advertising. So iyong time na inilagi niya sa oras na iyon ay maaring maibawas sa kaniyang time limit,” he added.

The Comelec Spokesperson also enlightened the viewers how candidates’ appearances on television would fall to voters’ education and not an election offense.

Such is the case with UNTV’s invitation of election hopefuls in its program Get It Straight with Daniel Razon – a current affairs-talk show-reality show which provides a platform for controversial personalities such as election candidates to discuss relevant issues concerning them.

“The fact na iniimbita mo lahat, that means parang voter education iyan. That’s how I understand your goal to be. For the most part, hindi iyan maka-count,” Director Jimenez explained as he talked to Razon via Facetime.

“Ang nagkakaproblema lamang ay ang mga gumagawa niyan at ang iniimbita lamang ay ang mga kandidatong gusto lang nila. Nagkakaroon sila ng pagpili kung sino ang iimbitahan nila, sino ang kakausapin nila, iyon medyo malabo iyon. Kapag iniimbita naman lahat, it doesn’t really matter kung di dumarating lahat. Ang importante, inimbita lahat,” he clarified.

 Prior to the start of official campaign, the poll body reminded all national candidates to take down campaign materials especially those hoisted or posted in unauthorized locations or non-common poster areas.

The poll body clarified, however, that the ‘Oplan Baklas’ at this point covers only national candidates because the campaign period for local candidates will begin on March 29.

“Kailangan idistinguish natin ang mga posters kung iyan ay for local candidates lang, hindi pa natin magagalaw iyan kasi sa March 29 pa ang start ng local campaign for them. Literally, okay pang andun yan,” Jimenez noted.

The Comelec spokesperson stressed that sanctions will be given to national candidates who will not heed the poll body’s policy of taking down illegal campaign materials.

“Kung national candidate yan, i-do-document natin. After three days, kung andyan pa, li-litratuhan natin to make sure na alam natin. We will document the materials that are still in place and then doon natin sila ngayon pepenahan . After that, once we are able to document, puwede na nating baklasin,” he concluded. – Marje Pelayo  

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Comelec declares entire Mindanao, other areas as 2019 poll hotspots

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Tuesday, 19 March 2019 09:41 PM

Map of Mindanao | Google Maps

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Tuesday (March 19) declared the entire region of Mindanao as an election hotspot ahead of the 2019 Midterm polls.

Comelec Spokesperson James Jimenez said in a statement the decision developed in the wake of suspected poll-related incidents in the last two elections in the country, and “serious armed threats” made by the New People’s Army (NPA), the Bangsamoro Freedom Fighters (BIFF), the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and some rogue elements of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and other similar groups.

Jimenez said the military and police joined the Comelec in identifying Mindanao as a hotspot under Category Red.

Other areas classified as Category Red hotspots are Jones in Isabela; Lope de Vega in Northern Samar and the entire province of Abra.

“The category red may warrant the motu propio declaration of Comelec Control over the affected area,” Jimenez said.

“The Comelec En Banc may direct the augmentation of personnel of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) as the need arises,” he added.

Category Red also refers to areas where relevant government agencies declared the existence of conditions which may constitute grounds for the declaration of Comelec Control.

The PNP, AFP and Comelec follow a system of classification in determining election hotspots: category orange refers to areas where there are serious armed threats posed by domestic terror groups and other similar groups; category yellow refers to areas with history of election-related violence or the existence of intense political rivalry but without the presence of terror groups; while category green refers to areas of no security concern and are relatively peaceful.

The Midterm elections, set for May 13, 2019, are expected to be participated by more than 60 million registered Filipino voters. – Robie de Guzman

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Macalintal urges Comelec to probe sub-contracting of survey firms

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Monday, 11 March 2019 08:34 PM

Election lawyer Romulo Macalintal

MANILA, Philippines – Opposition candidate Atty. Romeo Macalintal urges the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to investigate the alleged sub-contracting of survey firms in the country.

Macalintal said survey companies are only sourcing information from other agencies instead of conducting their own poll.

This, he said, came from a reliable source.

He argued that pollsters are bound by policies that must be followed to ensure the authenticity and reliability of surveys.

“Pero kung ganiyan na (ang) ginagawa pala iyong mga raw data ng ibang mga sub-contracting company (ang ginagamit), (If they are using raw data from other sub-contracting company,) how sure are we na itong mga sub-contracting company na ito ay hindi nalalapitan ng mga kandidato, (that these sub-contracting companies are not being influenced by election candidates?)” Macalintal said.

On Saturday (March 9), opposition candidates called on the public not to believe in election surveys due to reports of fake surveys circulating on social media. – Marje Pelayo

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Comelec to ship OAV ballots next week

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Thursday, 7 March 2019 05:33 PM

An overseas Filipino worker (OFW) in Dubai participates in the 2013 Philippine elections through overseas absentee voting (OAV). (Lonix Foto Grafix | PVI)

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) will begin shipping the election ballots abroad next week for the Overseas Absentee Voters (OAV).

Elaiza David, Director III at the Office for Overseas Voting said they already finished printing the election ballots and will begin shipping in the second week of March.

These ballots will be shipped to various posts abroad to be delivered to the overseas voters.

“Right now we have started the packing of the ballots which will be shipped to different posts to be delivered to voters overseas. These envelopes contain the ballots, instructions to voters and also the list of candidates for the 2019 elections,” David said.

Filipino voters overseas will only be voting for 12 senators and one party-list group.

Election period will be 30 days beginning April 13 and will end on May 13, Philippine time.

Scheduled time for voting will depend on the host country.

According to Comelec’s data there are 1,822,173 registered overseas absentee voters in the midterm polls.

Comelec also expects a 13 percent higher turnout of overseas voters this election.

David also hopes that more overseas Filipinos will exercise their right to vote.

“In each Philippine post, there are voters’ education activities being conducted, where we also encourage overseas Filipinos to vote,” said David. —Aileen Cerrudo

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