A veteran lawmaker is questioning the wisdom behind the Commission on Elections plan to extend to 120 days the campaign period for the May 2016 national and local elections.
Valenzuela City Congressman Win Gatchalian said a 120-day campaign period would be favorable to national candidates since it would be impossible for those running for president, vice president, and senator to go around the entire country for only three months or 90 days as provided under Omnibus Election Code.
Gatchalian pointed out that a 120-day campaign period for local officials, especially governors and mayors, will be counter-productive as this would mean that local officials would not be able to function for four months as they would be busy campaigning for reelection.
“The Comelec should consider the difference in the nature of work between national and local officials. Mayors are one of the busiest local executives and giving them 120 days to campaign will be detrimental to his constituents,” said Gatchalian, a former three-term mayor of Valenzuela City.
Under the Omnibus Election Code, local officials that include governors, congressmen, and mayors have a 45-day campaign period before Election Day.
But based on the Comelec’s “draft” Calendar of Activities for next year’s polls, the campaign period would start on Jan. 10, 2016 for the positions of president, vice president, senators, party-list groups, and members of the House of Representatives, as well as regional, provincial, city, and municipal officials.
Comelec Commissioner Christian Robert Lim said the move intends to stop the candidates’ premature campaigning activities. He assured that the Comelec will not violate the provisions of the Omnibus Election Code in extending the campaign period, adding that the poll body is authorized to adjust the calendar of activities during elections.
Section 28 of the Republic Act 8436 states that “if it shall no longer be reasonably possible to observe the periods and dates prescribed by law for certain pre-election acts, the Commission shall fix other periods and dates in order to ensure accomplishment of the activities so voters shall not be deprived of their suffrage.”
The Nationalist People’s Coalition congressman pointed out that 120 days to campaign for local officials is too long. “The Comelec should reconsider this by giving them only 60 days or two months to campaign, which is only 15 days more than the current campaign period of 45 days.”
“Local officials particularly mayors have to govern and electoral campaigns prevent them from fully functioning which could be the reason for the 45-day campaign period provided under the Omnibus Election Code,” Gatchalian concluded. (R. Burgos)