Poll watchdogs back Comelec’s anti-epal drive

Mayen Jaymalin – The Philippine Star

October 9, 2023 | 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Just like the Commission on Elections (Comelec), poll watchdogs believe that erring barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) post aspirants can be removed from the list of candidates before election day.

“It is feasible given the nature of the proceedings as well as the focus of the Comelec to go after these erring candidates,” Legal Network for Truthful Elections (Lente) executive director Ona Caritos said.

National Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) secretary general Eric Alvia agreed with Caritos.

“It’s doable as long as caseload isn’t a lot,” Alvia said.

Both Caritos and Alvia commended the Comelec’s intensified efforts to run after barangay and SK elections (BSKE) candidates who engage in premature campaigning.

For Caritos, it is right for the Comelec to show BSKE candidates that no one is above the law, thus, they should abide by the rules.

The Comelec’s timid and nonchalant stance toward premature campaigning in the past, Alvia said, had led to the normalization of such an illegal act.

“It’s about time that the Comelec takes a firmer approach toward these offenses,” he added.

The Comelec’s Task Force Anti-Epal has so far filed 82 petitions for disqualification against candidates who engage in premature campaigning.

Based on the initial assessment, the Comelec expects to file disqualification cases against 203 candidates.

The Comelec has issued 5,169 show-cause orders to BSKE candidates for premature campaigning, of which 1,132 have submitted explanations to the poll body.

A total of 347 complaints against BSKE bets have also been dropped for lack of “factual basis.”


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