COMELEC TO POLL BETS:  CAMPAIGN ENDS AT MIDNIGHT

MANILA,  May 8, 2004
 
(STAR)
By Jose Aravilla  -  The Commission on Elections (Comelec) warned candidates yesterday that the ban on campaigning starts at the stroke of midnight tonight, and anyone caught campaigning can be removed from office if they are elected and be jailed for as long as six years.

"I would like to appeal to our politicians that if they owe to themselves the respect and obedience of the people because they are the highest (law) implementors of the land as officials of the republic, they should obey the law," Comelec Commissioner Resurreccion Borra said.

He called on all the Comelec’s deputized agencies, the police and the military, to report violations of the Omnibus Election Code "earnestly and fairly" and "without discrimination."

Those found guilty of violating the law on illegal campaigning can be disqualified as candidates and removed even if they are already proclaimed as the winners, Borra said.

He added that there is also no probation for the jail sentence that goes with violating election laws — the guilty candidate will have to serve out the sentence, which can last from one year to six years, in prison.

"We owe it to our people who will be exercising their sovereignty. (Politicians) should help and support Comelec to enforce the law," Borra said.

The ban covers all those running for an elective post, from municipal councilor up to the president, including nominees of party-list groups running for seats in the House of Representatives.

Aside from the ban on campaigning, the liquor ban will also take effect at midnight tonight and will be lifted on May 11, the day after the elections.

Election laws prohibit candidates from giving out free transportation, food, drinks and things of value during the campaign period, which started Feb. 10 for national candidates and March 25 for local bets. The Comelec earlier said t-shirts, ballpens and caps — usually bearing the image of a candidate — usually distributed on campaign sorties are things of value.

There are a total of 53,000 candidates vying for 17,000 positions all over the country.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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