Comelec Chairman Sixto brillantes expects “epal” from politicians to get worse after the filing of the certificates of candidacy from October 1 to 5.
“epal” refers to a form of premature campaigning where policitians’s names and faces are put in public places to claim credit for a project or seasonal greetings. It is meant to increase awareness for the politicians.
brillantes hopes the anti-epal movement of social media practitioners and advocates will intensify after the filing. “the best we can do is shout with you. when we reach the campaign period that’s when we come in that’s when we enforce the provisions of law.”
Brillantes mentioned this after the comelec met with the different movers of the anti-epal movement on social media Monday.
during the meeting, brillantes explained to the convenors how the supreme court in one of its decisions abolished the offense of premature campaigning when it ruled that a person is not a candidate until the start of the campaign period even if he already filed his candidacy.
brillantes said he supports the bill of senator Miriam defensor Santiago that aims to address this loophole.
Brillantes however said it maybe hard to get political support for this bill in time for the 2013 midterm elections. brillantes says they hope to tie up this reform measure with efforts to reform the campaign finance law. this is why he would prefer that for now, civil society take the lead. brillantes says he hopes to join one of the tours of the anti-epal campaign. brillantes reiterated his pitch that the voters don’t vote for “epal” politicians.
Brillantes for his part revealed that the comelec may also release an en banc resolution to support the anti-epal movement, even as he called on politicians not to dirty public places by using “epal” posters and paraphernalia.
Brillantes says they may also consider deputizing citizen’s arms as watchdogs for campaign financing and premature campaigning. brillantes said though that for now, a citizens’ arm is allowed only for election day. Brillantes says they will also instruct comelec local officials to back the anti-epal movement.
Vince Lazatin of the Transparency and Accountability Network said they are considering all their options under the law to crack down on the so-called “epal” politicians who have plastered their names and faces on public areas, vehicles and even the internet ahead of the actual campaign period.
Lazatin was asked if they will consider filing charges of “unjust vexation” since election laws won’t cover “epal” till the start of the campaign period.
“sa ngayon wala pa pag-uusapan pa namin iyon. definitely an option.”
previously, election lawyer Romulo macalintal said politicians maybe held liable for other laws for their “epal” activities.
“ any concernd citizen annoyed or vexed by epal posters can file case of unjust vexation and anti littering and if convicted can b disqualified for committing a crime involving moral turpitude.”
Lazatin and other movers of the anti epal movement met with the Commission on elections today for a dialogue on their efforts. Lazatin thanked Chairman Sixto Brillantes for publicly denouncing “epal”
Lazatin says it was a good step for the comelec even if they have no law to use to crack down on epal politicians. Lazatin says they will work with the Comelec to amend the law.
Civil Society figure Mae Paner also known as Juana Change, appealed to the public to support them by each giving a peso for their cause. Paner says they are just supporting their anti-epal road tour from their own pockets.
Others in the anti-epal movement also updated the commission on their anti-epal efforts. Lazatin began his campaign on facebook last may. he says there’s a strong desire to end the practice of epal. lazatin showed the poll body the various forms of epal from what they have monitored. lazatin also hoped the comelec can include anti-epal provisions in its voters’ education module.
Noemi dado of epalwatch.com wants comelec to use moral suasion in the meantime even as she called for more teeth for the fair election act to include coverage of the digital medium.