Melo supports Senate plan to amend the Omnibus Election Code

August 14, 2009 10:09 am 

MANILA, Aug. 14 — Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Jose Melo has expressed support on the plan of the Senate to amend the Omnibus Election Code, particularly on the issues of premature campaigning.

“I am in favor of amendments because of these numerous political advertisements… so that it will be stopped already,” he said.

According to Melo, it is time for the election law to be improved since it is being circumvented by politicians ahead of a scheduled election.

“We hope they can already come up with the proper guidelines… because we are already having a difficult time with it (premature campaigning),” Melo said.

On Friday, the Senate committee on economic affairs headed by Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago conducted a hearing on premature campaigning by government officials through infomercials on TV and radio.

The lady senator earlier filed a petition seeking to stop the airing of such advertisements, which she described as a “camouflage violation of the campaign ban” but was later junked by the poll body.

The Comelec chief is hopeful that the senators will be able to come up with revisions so as to prevent such events from happening again.

“I hope they would be able to cover all corners, so to speak, through extensive study. There are many holes (in the law). It is very difficult to do it,” he said.

Section 79 of the Omnibus Election Code states that an individual may only be considered as a candidate if he or she has already filed a certificate of candidacy before the commission.

The Comelec noted that appearing in product or campaign commercials is all part of the freedom of expression as mandated in the Constitution.

The election period for the May 2010 polls will start on Jan. 10, 2010 while the filing of certificate of candidacy is set for Nov. 20 to 30 this year.

Among the officials that have “infomercials” are Finance Secretary Margarito Teves, Health Secretary Francisco Duque, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chairman Bayani Fernando, Vice President Noli de Castro, Interior and Local Government Secretary Ronaldo Puno, Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro, Public Works and Highways Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane, Education Secretary Jesli Lapus, Philippine Amusements and Gaming Corporation Chair Ephraim Genuino, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority Chair Augusto Syjuco, Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay, Senators Manuel A. Roxas II, Manny Villar, Loren Legarda and Richard Gordon. (PNA)

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