Comelec urged to drop election offense vs Ka Leody-Walden tandem amid permit slipup

February 8, 2022 - 8:17 PM
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File photo show presidential candidate Leody de Guzman and vice presidential candidate Walden Bello. (Walden Bello/Twitter)

The Commission on Elections was asked to be lenient after 2022 candidates Leody de Guzman and Walden Bello failed to secure a permit for their proclamation rally.

De Guzman and Bello, who are running under the political party Lakas ng Masa, kicked off their campaign at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani in Quezon City on Tuesday, February 8.

However, an official from the Comelec said that their camp failed to secure a permit to conduct this campaign activity.

“Per our records from the NCR, they did not receive any application for the conduct of any mode of campaign from the group of Ka Leody De Guzman,” said Comelec’s Education and Information Department Director Elaiza David in a briefing.

Based on reports, De Guzman and Bello still pushed through with their plans despite the risk of electoral violations.

They met with other labor groups in front of ABS-CBN’s headquarters and proceeded with the motorcade to the venue.

As of writing, the proclamation rally is still ongoing.

Rules on conducting election campaigns

According to Comelec’s Resolution 10732, applications for election campaign activities should be secured 72 hours ahead of the scheduled date.

National candidates should submit their applications to the regional COMELEC Campaign Committee (RCCC).

Violations of these requirements may result in election offenses.

In section 27 of the directive, penalties for election offenses include jail time of up to six years.

Candidates may also face disqualification and deprivation of the right to suffrage.

In an interview with reporters, De Guzman said that he is prepared to face possible election offenses.

However, the presidential aspirant is hopeful that he won’t be disqualified from the race.

Calls addressed to Comelec

Some Filipinos online hoped that the poll body would give the tandem a chance and not consider this incident as an election offense.

“Baka i-remind na lang muna ng COMELEC sa guidelines at wag muna iconsider na election offense,” one Twitter user said.

“COMELEC, it’s literally just a permit issue. Paper, like a cedula. And of all places, sa Bantayog ng mga Bayani?” another Twitter user commented.

Others were saddened by this development.

“This is heartbreaking. Those responsible to do their job within his party must be sacked. While I am not rooting for him, nakakalungkot ito,” a Twitter user said.

“Sad itong nangyayari ngayon kina Leody dahil umaasa rin ang supporters ang nag-aabang sa kanya,” another user tweeted.

Clarification from Comelec

In a separate interview, poll spokesperson James Jimenez clarified that what the Comelec is trying to regulate with the permits are the mass gatherings amid the still raging COVID-19 pandemic.

“Hindi po ipinagbabawal mangampanya ang kahit sino, pero yung mga public events – yung mga mass gatherings – yun ang nire-regulate natin, hindi yung right to campaign,” Jimenez said.

“I just want to make that very clear because I’m a little concerned na, you know, something might be lost in the message na people might suddenly think na ipinagbabawal ang pangangampanya,” he added.

Jimenez also further pointed out that other forms of campaigning are allowed.

“What’s being regulated is the mass gathering – so yun po ang subject ng ating regulation. They can still campaign using other modes of campaigning but they cannot hold mass gatherings without a permit,” he said.

The campaign period for the national positions started on February 8 and will last until May 7, 2022.