PREMATURE CAMPAIGNING – Meron ba nun?

by Tito Boy on November 3, 2012

Sa 2013 pa ang eleksiyon, pero ngayon pa lang ay kaliwa’t kanan na ang mga epal na pulitikong nangangampanya sa telebisyon, radyo, diyaryo at mga banners/streamers. Wala namang tayong pakialam kung ibalandra nila ang mga pangit nilang mukha na pinotoshop, ngunit ang masama ay alam natin kung kanino galing ang mga perang winaldas nila upang i-promote ang sarili.

Tuwing tinatanong ang Chairman ng COMELEC kung hindi ba ito maituturing na premature campaigning, isa lang ang sagot niya na mababaybay sa dalawang salita: “INUTIL KAMI”.

Bakit kaya? Ano ang basehan ng COMELEC upang sabihin inutil sila sa pagsaway sa mga pulitikong umeepal at nangangampanya kahit sa susunod na taon pa ang eleksiyon?

Dito papasok ang kaso ng Rosalinda A. Penera vs . COMELEC, et al., [G.R. No. 181163, September 11, 2009, November 29, 2009] na nagpatibay sa naunang kaso ng Henry P. Lanot vs. COMELEC, et al., [G.R. No. 164858, November 16, 2006].

Facts of the Case

Si Rosalinda Penera (Penera) at Egdar T. Andanar (Andanar) ay magkalabang kandidato bilang Mayor ng Munisipyo ng Sta. Monica, Surigao Del Norte noong 2007 Elections.

Naghain ng Petition for Disqualification si Penera sa COMELEC laban kay Andanar dahil noong March 29, 2007, isang araw bago ang campaign period, ay nangampanya daw itong si Penera sa pamamagitan ng motorcade pagkatapos nitong maghain ng Certificate of Candidacy (COC) sa COMELEC.

Inamin ni Penera na may motorcade nga na nangyari at bilang palusot, hindi daw siya nangangampanya dahil “usual practice” naman daw ito ng mga pulitiko pagkatapos maghain ng COC. Wala rin naman daw nagtalumpati matapos ng motorcade at nagsiuwian na agad ang kanyang mga hakot err supporters.

Noong July 24, 2007, nagpalabas ng Resolution ang Second Division ng COMELEC na sinulat ni Comm. Nicodemo T. Ferrer, disqualifying Penara bilang mayoralty candidate dahil sa premature campaigning. Naghain ng Motion for Reconsideration si Penera, ngunit binasura ito ng COMELEC En Banc.

Kaya naghain ng Petition si Penera sa Supreme Court upang baliktarin ang Resolution ang COMELEC disqualifying him as mayoralty candidate of Sta. Monica.

 

Supreme Court Original Decision (September 11, 2009)

Noong September 11, 2009, binasura ng SC ang Petition ni Penera at na- AFFIRM ang Resolution ng COMELEC disqualifying him as mayoralty candidate. Sa desisyong sinulat ni Associate Justice Minita V. Chico-Nazario, ganito ang paliwanag ng SC:

Ang premature campaigning ay defined under Section 80 ng Omnibus Election Code:

SECTION 80. Election campaign or partisan political activity outside campaign period. — It shall be unlawful for any person, whether or not a voter or candidate, or for any party, or association of persons, to engage in an election campaign or partisan political activity except during the campaign period: Provided, That political parties may hold political conventions or meetings to nominate their official candidates within thirty days before the commencement of the campaign period and forty-five days for Presidential and Vice-Presidential election.

Kapag napatunayang engaged sa premature campaigning ang isang kandidato, disqualification ang parusang ipapataw.

Sa kaso ni Penera, malinaw na merong premature campaigning dahil inamin niya mismo na may motorcade na nangyari.

Ang motorcade ay isang form ng election campaign or partisan political activity defined under Sec. 79 (b)(2) of the Omnibus Election Code, which is “[h]olding political caucuses, conferences, meetings, rallies, parades, or other similar assemblies, for the purpose of soliciting votes and/or undertaking any campaign or propaganda for or against a candidate”.

Obviously, ang purpose ng motorcade ay ipakilala ang mga kandidato sa publiko at ang posisyong na kanilang tinatakbuhan upang maalala sila ng mga botante sa darating na eleksiyon. Hindi maitatanggi na walang ibang hangarin ang motorcade kundi mangampanya.

Hindi umubra ang mga palusot ni Penera na “spontaneous” at “unplanned” daw motorcade dahil ayon sa mga testigo, dalawang jeepney at sampung motorsiklo na may iba’t-ibang kulay na lobo ang pumarada, habang kumakaway-kaway si Penera at namimigay ng mga kendi sa publiko. “Sinong niloloko mo?” sabi siguro ng SC.

Sumang-ayon ang labindalawang (12) Associate Justices ng SC sa sinulat ni Associate Justice Chico-Nazario, kasama ang noo’y Chief Justice Reynato Puno. Isa lang ang ‘di sumang-ayon at ito ay si Associate Justice Antonio T. Carpio na nagsulat ng sariling Dissenting Opinion.

 

Supreme Court Resolution on the Motion for Reconsideration (November 25, 2009)

Syempre, naghain ng Motion for Reconsideration si Penera sa SC upang baguhin ang Desisyon. Na mga kasong ganito na may halos unanimous concurrence mula sa SC En Banc (14-1), napakahirap baliktarin. But what do you know? SC made a 180 degree turn from its original Decision penned by Associeta Justice Chico-Nazario.

Sa pagkakataong ito, ang lone dissenter na si Associate Justice Caprio ang siya ngayong ponente ng Resolution na nag-grant sa Motion for Reconsideration ni Penera. Sabi ng SC wala daw premature campaign na nangyari dahil hindi pa campaign period noong naganap ang motorcade ni Penera. Dahil wala pang campaign period, hindi pa maituturing na kandidato si Penera, kaya hindi siya pwedeng madisqualify. Upang maintindihan ang desisyon, eto ang paliwanag:

Ayon sa naunang desisyong ng SC sa kasong Lanot vs. COMELEC (na si Carpio rin ang ponente), may tatlong (3) essential elements ang premature campaigning:

(1) a person engages in an election campaign or partisan political activity;

(2) the act is designed to promote the election or defeat of a particular candidate or candidates;

(3) the act is done outside the campaign period.

Pasok sa unang elemento ang kasong ito dahil napatunayan na nangampanya si Penera, kaya dumeretso tayo sa dalawang natitirang elemento.

Sa pangalawang elemento kailangan may kandidato. Ayon sa Section 79(a) Election Code, ang isang kandidato ay yung naghain ng certificate of candidancy (COC). Sa pangatlong elemento kailangan hindi pa nagsisimula ang campaign period (kaya mga premature eh).

Kaya kung ang kampanya ay ginawa sa huling araw ng pagfile ng COC, magkakaroon lang ng premature campaigning sa last day, the day before the start of the campaign period. Kaya noon, lahat ng kandidato ay naghahain ng COC sa huling araw na, upang makakampanya sila hanggang sa kinahulihang araw bago mag campaign period.

Ngunit ayon sa Section 11 ng RA 8436 (ang batas na nagpapahintulot sa COMELEC na magsagawa ng automated elections):

 “SECTION 11. Official Ballot. – The Commission shall prescribe the size and form of the official ballot which shall contain the titles of the positions to be filled and/or the propositions to be voted upon in an initiative, referendum or plebiscite. Under each position, the names of candidates shall be arranged alphabetically by surname and uniformly printed using the same type size. A fixed space where the chairman of the Board of Election Inspectors shall affix his/her signature to authenticate the official ballot shall be provided.

Both sides of the ballots may be used when necessary.

For this purpose, the deadline for the filing of certificate of candidacy/petition for registration/ manifestation to participate in the election shall not be later than one hundred twenty (120) days before the elections: Provided, That, any elective official, whether national or local, running for any office other than the one which he/she is holding in a permanent capacity, except for president and vice-president, shall be deemed resigned only upon the start of the campaign period corresponding to the position for which he/she is running: Provided, further, That, unlawful acts or omissions applicable to a candidate shall take effect upon the start of the aforesaid campaign period.”

Base dito, sabi sa kaso ng Lanot vs. COMELEC, ang sole purpose daw kaya dapat maagang magfile ng COC ang mga kandidato (120 days before elections) para bigyan ng ample time sa pag-imprenta ng mga balota. Hindi daw intensiyon ng Kongreso na gawin agad “kandidato” ang taong nagfile ng COC.

Kaya kung sino man ang maghain ng COC, hindi agad siya considered na “candidate”, until the start of the campaign period, which is 120 days before the elections.

Noong inamendahan ang Section 15 ng RA 8436, [sa pagpasa ng RA 9369], nilagay at ini-incorporate daw ng Kongreso ang Lanot Doctrine, thus:

“For this purpose, the Commission shall set the deadline for the filing of certificate of candidacy/petition for registration/manifestation to participate in the election. Any person who files his certificate of candidacy within this period shall only be considered as a candidate at the start of the campaign period for which he filed his certificate of candidacy: Provided, That, unlawful acts or omissions applicable to a candidate shall take effect only upon the start of the aforesaid campaign period: Provided, finally, That any person holding a public appointive office or position, including active members of the armed forces, and officers and employees in government-owned or -controlled corporations, shall be considered ipso facto resigned from his/her office and must vacate the same at the start of the day of the filing of his/her certificate of candidacy. (Boldfacing and underlining supplied)”

Ini-elevate daw ng Kongreso ang Lanot Doctrine bilang isang batas sa pag-insert ng katagang “shall only be considered as a candidate at the start of the campaign period” sa RA 8436.

Bukod dito, sa pagpasa ng RA 9369, sinaksak pa ng Kongreso ang word na “ONLY” sa orihinal nakalagay sa RA 8436, eto:

 “Provided, That, unlawful acts or omissions applicable to a candidate shall take effect only upon the start of the aforesaid campaign period.”

Sa pag-insert ng word na “ONLY”, pinatibay ng Kongreso na ang election offenses ay magagawa lamang ng isang kandidato sa pagsimula ng campaign period. Klaro daw na bago magsimula ang campaign period, walang election offense na masasagawa tulad ng premature campaigning.

Kaya kung babasahin ng halinhinan ang RA 8436 at RA 9369, hindi daw kinokonsidera ng batas na isang “candidate” si Penera noong nagmotorcade siya dahil hindi pa ito campaign period. Ang paghain ng COC daw ay for purposes lang ng pag-imprenta ng balota.

Bilang paliwanag, qinoute ang Dissenting Opinion ni Carpio sa orihinal sa Desisyon (na siya rin naman ang ponente sa motion for reconsideration):

“x x x The definition of a “candidate” in Section 79(a) of the Omnibus Election Code should be read together with the amended Section 15 of RA 8436. A “‘candidate’ refers to any person aspiring for or seeking an elective public office, who has filed a certificate of candidacy by himself or through an accredited political party, aggroupment or coalition of parties.” However, it is no longer enough to merely file a certificate of candidacy for a person to be considered a candidate because “any person who files his certificate of candidacy within [the filing] period shall only be considered a candidate at the start of the campaign period for which he filed his certificate of candidacy.” Any person may thus file a certificate of candidacy on any day within the prescribed period for filing a certificate of candidacy yet that person shall be considered a candidate, for purposes of determining one’s possible violations of election laws, only during the campaign period. Indeed, there is no “election campaign” or “partisan political activity” designed to promote the election or defeat of a particular candidate or candidates to public office simply because there is no “candidate” to speak of prior to the start of the campaign period. Therefore, despite the filing of her certificate of candidacy, the law does not consider Penera a candidate at the time of the questioned motorcade which was conducted a day before the start of the campaign period. x x x” [underscoring supplied]

Sabi ng SC, klaro daw ang batas lalo na noong inamendahan ang RA 8436 – a candidate is liable for election offenses only upon the start of the campaign period.

 

Conclusion

In short, hindi man express na i-abolish ng Kongreso ang election offense na premature campaigning sa Election Code, parang ganon na rin ang nangyari.

Kasi isipin mo, ang premature campaigning ay pinagbabawal lang bago ang campaign period, pero ayon sa RA 9369, magiging liable lang sa election offense ang isang kandidato “upon the start of the campaign period”.

Parang sinabi ng girlfriend mo na “Honey wag mo na akong bilhan ng bagong Iphone 5 kasi mahal, pero gusto ko yung white.” Kalokohan ‘di ba?

Anong aasahan mo sa Kongreso e sila mismo ang mga epal na gumagawa ng batas. Walang pinagkaiba yan sa “Anti-Dynasty Bill” kuno na wala tayong aasahan.

Bilang botante at responsableng mamayan, kunan ng litrato at tandaan ang mga epal at i-post sa mga social networking sites. Kapag hindi tinablan ang matitigas nilang mukha, huwag na iboto. Kaso, baka wala nang matira para iboto. ‘Wag ka mag-alala sa libel provision ng Anti-Cyber Crime Law, basta patas ang iyong kritisismo, ako bahala sa’yo.

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The laudable and exemplary intention behind the prohibition against premature campaigning, as declared in Chavez v. Commission on Elections,[ 480 Phil. 915 (2004)] is to level the playing field for candidates of public office, to equalize the situation between the popular or rich candidates, on one hand, and lesser-known or poorer candidates, on the other, by preventing the former from enjoying undue advantage in exposure and publicity on account of their resources and popularity. – Penera vs. Comelec, et al.

 

 

Further reading for discussion purposes (Hindi kailanangan, pero walang mawawala kung babasahin mo)

Clarification on the Lanot Case

Sinabi sa Lanot vs. COMELEC na hindi guilty sa premature campaigning si Eusebio dahil ang mga pangangampanya ay nangyari bago siya nag-file ng COC. Sinabi sa kasong ito na naging candidate lang si Eusebio noong nagfile siya ng COC [at hindi during campaign period], to quote:

Under Section 11 of RA 8436, Eusebio became a “candidate,” for purposes of Section 80 of the Omnibus Election Code, only on 23 March 2004, the last day for filing certificates of candidacy. Applying the facts – as found by Director Ladra and affirmed by the COMELEC First Division – to Section 11 of RA 8436, Eusebio clearly did not violate Section 80 of the Omnibus Election Code which requires the existence of a “candidate,” one who has filed his certificate of candidacy, during the commission of the questioned acts.

Therefore, in my opinion, hindi sinabi categorically sa Lanot case na naging candidate lang si Eusebio during the start of the campaign period. Sinabi lang sa Lanot case na hindi agad maituturing na candidate ang taong nagfile ng COC, except for purposes of printing ballots.

In fact, hindi na-apply ng SC ang Section 11 ng RA 8436 which states that “Provided, further, That, unlawful acts or omissions applicable to a candidate shall take effect upon the start of the aforesaid campaign period.” Sabi ng SC na hahayaan na lang ang interpretasyon nito sa future cases:

“By definition, the election offense in Section 80 of the Omnibus Election Code cannot be committed during the campaign period. On the other hand, under Eusebio’s theory, unlawful acts applicable to a candidate cannot be committed outside of the campaign period. The net result is to make the election offense in Section 80 physically impossible to commit at any time. We shall leave this issue for some other case in the future since the present case can be resolved without applying the proviso in Section 11 of RA 8436.”

 

Dissenting Opinion of Associate Justice Roberto A. Abad

Maganda ang sinulat na dissenting opinion ni Justice Abad upang isabuhay ang spirit ng premature campaigning. Eto ang kanyang mga simple, ngunit mas matalino at logical na punto:

1) Ayon sa Section 80 ng Election Code, ang premature campaigning ay pinagbabawal sa kahit sino, kandidato man o hindi dahil sa salitang “ANY PERSON”.

SECTION 80. Election campaign or partisan political activity outside campaign period. — It shall be unlawful for any person, whether or not a voter or candidate, or for any party, or association of persons, to engage in an election campaign or partisan political activity except during the campaign period . (Emphasis supplied)

Ergo, kahit hindi pa rin “candidate” si Penera noong nagmotorcade siya dahil hindi pa campaign period, guilty pa rin siya sa premature campaigning bilang non-candidate.

2) Ang Section 15 ng RA 8436 – “Provided, That, unlawful acts or omissions applicable to a candidate shall take effect only upon the start of the aforesaid campaign period” – ay dapat i-apply lang sa mga unlawful acts na maaring gawin during campaign period, at huwag isama dito ang premature campaigning. Kasi nga naman, paano mako-commit ang premature campaigning during campaign period?

“Congress could not be presumed to have written a ridiculous rule. It is safe to assume that, in enacting R.A. 9369, Congress did not intend to decriminalize illegal acts that candidates and non-candidates alike could commit prior to the campaign period.”

Justice Abad, reiterated the pronouncement of the SC, forty (40) years ago in the case of Gonzales v. Commission on Elections, [137 Phil. 471, 490-491 (1969)], which declared as constitutional the provision against premature campaigning, which holds true to this day:

“Further, current majority’s view may doom the next generations. Congress enacted Section 80 because, historically, premature election campaigns begun even years before the election saps the resources of the candidates and their financial backers, ensuring considerable pay-back activities when the candidates are elected. Such lengthy campaigns also precipitate violence, corrupt the electorate, and divert public attention from the more vital needs of the country.”

I hope time comes that another composition of the SC will see the light and wisdom on Justice Abad’s Dissenting Opinion, and adopt it as majority view in future cases, in order to give life and uphold the true intent and spirit of the provision against premature campaigning.

 


 

 

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Kiko November 3, 2012 at 11:47 am

Thanks for the info Tito Boy. Nung bumili ako ng chop suey dito malapit sa amin nagulat ako kasi nilagyan nila ng leaflets yung loob ng plastic.Nung nakita ko nakalagay ang isang pangalan ng isang kapitan dito na tatakbo uli for the same position. Sabi ko,ano to? nagulat yung tindera at sabi pakibasa na lang. hindi ko kinuha at sinabihan ko na bawal yan at sabay alis.Tameme na lang sila.haha

Reply

Tito Boy November 3, 2012 at 12:05 pm

Nice one Kiko!

Reply

foobarph November 3, 2012 at 10:06 pm

buti ka pa kiko, leaflet. sa akin pamaypay! take note, ang tigas pa ng pamaypay na yun! sintigas ng mukha ng politikong nakalagay dun! (trivia: running as councilor sa manila). tsk tsk

Reply

BON November 5, 2012 at 5:24 am

taragis 180 degrees turn! hahaha

Reply

swin November 6, 2012 at 5:34 pm

dagdag kaalaman na naman, salamat po. ito lang na website inaabangan ko parati.

Reply

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