Thursday, April 21, 2016

Campaigning no longer allowed, poll exec reminds overseas Pinoys

As far as the Commission on Elections (Comelec) is concerned, neither supporters nor the candidates themselves are allowed to campaign abroad during the month-long voting period for overseas Filipinos.
"Bawal na po ang magkampanya," Commissioner Arthur Lim, head of the Comelec committee on overseas voting, said Tuesday, reacting to a petition filed by a Filipino-American with the Supreme Court.
In her petition, the US-based Loida Nicolas-Lewis, represented by Ateneo Human Rights Center, challenges Section 36.8 of Republic Act No. 9189 (OAVA of 2003), as amended by R.A. No 10590 (Overseas Voting Act of 2013) and Section 74 (II)(8) of Comelec Resolution No. 10035, pertaining to the prohibition of partisan political activity abroad during the 30-day overseas voting period. 
According to Lewis, she and other overseas Filipinos were prohibited by the different Philippine Consulates from conducting information campaigns, as well as rallies and outreach programs in support of their respective candidates, especially for the presidential and vice presidential race.
The petitioner said while the contested provisions reflected the spirit behind the Omnibus Election Code, "[T]he manner by which this is to be carried out fails to consider the unique context of overseas absentee voting, thereby resulting in the undue curtailment of the most cherished rights of freedom of speech and expression, and of information."
But Lim said the law should be followed.
"Ang batas kasi diyan, during the election period, dapat wala nang kampanya," he said on Tuesday. "Ang voting period ng overseas [absentee] is one month, so from Apr. 9 to May 9. Wala nang campaigning."
Comelec Resolution No. 9981 prohibits campaigning abroad during the one-month voting period. The same is provided by the Overseas Voting Act of 2013.
According to Lim, they will keep track of campaigning done amid this ban overseas. "'Yan po ay imo-monitor natin at ire-record natin 'yung violations, and we will act accordingly," he said.
There are a total of 1,376,067 Filipinos registered for overseas absentee voting. As of 7 a.m. Tuesday, 95,547 of them have voted. —KBK, GMA News

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