MANILA — The May 9, 2016 election fever officially kicks in with the start of the Election Period on Sunday.
With this, several prohibited acts will be implemented starting Jan. 10 until June 8, including the barring ofindividuals from carrying, bearing, or transporting firearms and other deadly weapons, unless authorized by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) as provided under Section 32, Republic Act No. 7166.
The law states that during the election period, no person shall bear, carry or transport firearms or other deadly weapons in public places, including any building, street, park, private vehicle or public conveyance, even if licensed to possess or carry the same, unless authorized in writing by the Commission. The issuance of firearms licenses shall be suspended during the election period.
It added that only regular members or officers of the Philippine National Police, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and other enforcement agencies of the Government who are duly deputized in writing by the Commission for election duty may be authorized to carry and possess firearms during the election period: Provided, That, when in the possession of firearms, the deputized law enforcement officer must be: In full uniform showing clearly and legibly his name, rank and serial number which shall remain visible at all times; and in the actual performance of his election duty in the specific area designated by the Commission.
Also prohibited is the use of security personnel or bodyguards by candidates (Sec. 33, R.A. 7166) unless allowed by the poll body and the alteration of territory of a precinct or establishments of a new precinct (Section 5, R.A. 8189).
Likewise, the organization or maintenance of reaction forces, strike forces or other similar forces (Section 261 (u), Omnibus Election Code (OEC) and the alteration of territory of a precinct or establishments of a new precinct (Section 5, R.A. 8189) are barred during the period.
The transfer or movement of officers and employees in the civil service (Sec. 261 (h), OEC) and the suspension of elective local officials (Sec. 261 (x), OEC) are also prohibited.
But, the former was recently repealed by Comelec Resolution No. 10030, which allows some government agencies the continuing authority to appoint or hire new employees from March 25 to May 8 as well as to transfer their officials or employees from Jan. 10 to June 8.
“For purposes of the May 9, 2016 elections, the Commission hereby grants continuing authority to the following government agencies: The President of the Philippines; Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, Sandiganbayan, Court of Tax Appeals and the lower courts, including the Senate and Presidential Electoral Tribunal; Philippine National Police; and Armed Forces of the Philippines,” said the Resolution dated Dec. 22, 2015.
On the other hand, during the Campaign Period for national posts which is from Feb. 9 to May 7, it is prohibited to give donations, or gift in cash or in kind, etc. (Section 104, OEC and appointment or use of special policemen, confidential agents and the like (Section 261 (m), OEC).
From March 10 to June 8, it is also barred the illegal release of prisoners.
Campaigning for national and local posts, which should start on March 25, will not be allowed on the 24th and 25th since the dates fall on Holy Thursday and Good Friday, respectively.
The campaign period for those who are running for local positions was moved to March 26.
From March 25 to May 8, the construction of public works, delivery of materials for public works and issuance of treasury warrant or similar devices for a future undertaking chargeable against public funds is not allowed (Section 261 (w), OEC) and release disbursement or expenditures of public funds (Section 261 (v), OEC).
From April 9 (8 a.m., host country time) to May 9 (7 p.m., PHL time), campaigning abroad is prohibited (Sec.22, R.A. 10590).
On the eve of Election Day, May 8, candidates should stop their campaign activities (Sec. 5, R.A. 7166); selling, furnishing, offering, buying, serving or taking intoxicating liquor are prohibited (Section 261 (dd), OEC) and giving, accepting, free transportation, food or drinks or things of value (Sec. 89, OEC).
On Election Day, May 9, the following acts are prohibited, campaigning (Sec. 5, R.A. 7166); selling, furnishing, offering, buying, serving or taking intoxicating liquor are prohibited (Section 261 (dd), OEC); giving, accepting, free transportation, food or drinks or things of value (Sec. 89, OEC); voting more than once or in substitution of another (Sec. 261 (z), (2) and (3), OEC).
Also, soliciting votes or undertaking any propaganda for or against any candidate or any political party within the polling place or within 30 meters thereof (Sec. 261 (cc), OEC); opening of booths or stalls for the sale, etc., of merchandise or refreshments within thirty (30) meters from the polling place (Sec. 261 (dd) (2), OEC) and holding of fairs, cockfights, boxing, horse races or any other similar sports (Sec. 261 (dd) (3), OEC). Ferdinand G. Patinio/PNA / northboundasia.com