Comelec Regulates Online Campaign Ads

MANILA Philippines --- Even the online campaign advertisements of candidates for the May, 2013, polls will now be regulated by the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

The Comelec enumerated the rules on campaigning online or over the Internet in their Resolution No. 9615 which was published in a newspaper yesterday.

The Comelec said the maximum size for online materials for each candidate shall be medium (300 width x 250 height); square pop-up (250x250); vertical rectangle (240x400); large rectangle (336x280); rectangle (180x150); 3:1 rectangle (300x100); pop-under (7.20x300); full banner (468x60); half banner (234x60); micro bar (88x31); button 1 (120x90); button 2 (120x60); vertical banner (120x240); square button (125x125); leaderboard (728x90); wide skyscrapers (160x600); skyscraper (120x600); and half-page ad (300x600).

The poll body said online advertisements shall "not be published more than three times in a week per website" during the campaign period.

"For this purpose, the exhibition or display of the online advertisement for any length of time, regardless of frequency, within a 24-hour period, shall be construed as one instance of publication," read the resolution.

To recall, the Comelec has virtually allowed candidates to have online campaign advertisements in previous elections due to the lack of rules to govern it.

Aside from the online ads, the poll body is also set to impose stricter rules in campaigning in the broadcast media.

In the same resolution, the number of minutes allowable to each candidate shall now be counted in total and not per television or radio station just like in the past.

For each national candidate, the commission said their advertisements must not be more than a combined total of 120 minutes for TV and 180 minutes for radio.

As for local bets, TV advertisements must not be more than a collective total of 60 minutes and 90 minutes for radio.

It also sought to amend rules on broadcast campaign, particularly on "tandem ads" or those that feature a party-list and a candidate.

"Tandem ads (party-list + candidate) / joint ads (multiple candidates in 1 ad) will be charged to airtime of each candidate," Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes said in his twitter account @ChairBrillantes.

Appearances and guestings on a bona fide newscast, interview, documentary that can be considered incidental to the presentation of the subjects covered by the news, on the other hand, shall not be considered campaign propaganda.

"To determine whether the appearance in a program is bona fide, the broadcast station must show that prior approval of the commission was secured, and that candidates and parties were afforded equal opportunities to promote their candidacy," said the Comelec.

As for published election propaganda, the poll body said the maximum size of print advertisements remains to be 1/4 page in broadsheets and 1/2 page in tabloids.

"Print advertisements shall not be published more than three times a week per newspaper, magazine, or other publication during the campaign period," said the Comelec.

Violations of the rules and regulations, which are based on the provisions of the Fair Election Act, shall constitute an election offense.

An election offense carries a penalty of one to six years imprisonment as well as removal of right to vote and run for public office, as per the Omnibus Election Code.

The new rules will only apply during the campaign period, which will start on February 12 for national candidates and March 29 for local ones.

Also yesterday, the Comelec announced that it has disqualified 73 local candidates from running in the May 13 midterm polls.

Declared as nuisance bets are Onofre Abad, Felix Cantal, Fidel Cruz, Samuel Gabot, Rodolfo Lim, Marino Magallanes, and Benjamin Rivera all running for Manila mayor; Fred Bello, Merlita Esquila, Eduardo Garibay, Melanio Gonzales, Arlan Gurnot, Romeo Lapuz, Anastacio Malquisto, Adrian Pangilinan, and Luis Razo all running for Caloocan mayor; Romeo Acebedo, who is running for Quezon City mayor; Allan Bantilo, and Fermin Idea, both running for Quezon City vice mayor; Pilar Ebarrete, who is running for San Juan vice mayor; and Adolfo Padalhin, who is running for mayor of Mandaluyong City.

Also found to be nuisance candidates are Roberto Aquino, Cherlito Crisostomo, Ferdinand Gundayao, Milagros Pragas, Clearence dela Merced, Edwin Dumalag, Jose Gonzales, Edgar Lim, Serafico Placer, and Joseph Timbol, all running for councilor in Caloocan City; Oscar Marmeto, who is running as Muntinlupa mayor; Rosendo Ancheta, who is running for Muntinlupa Vice Mayor; Amelia Aquino, Elmer Claus, Benedicto Laberinto, Ellen Malit, and Ruben Moreno, all running for councilor in Muntinlupa City; and Norgene Santos, who is running for councilor in Paranaque City.

In the provinces, found to be nuisance bets are Antonio Aliangan (Governor; Isabela); Jaime Almera (Governor; Bulacan); Joel Bersamina (Governor; Abra); Jorge Lumongsod (Governor; Agusan del Norte); Norberto Mijares (Governor; Davao del Norte); Jose Perez (Governor; Cagayan); Lilia Uy (Governor; Isabela); Jones Basbas (Mayor; Sison, Pangasinan); Lea Ong (Mayor; Cebu City); Miguel Selim (Mayor; Cebu City); Charlie Talledo (Mayor; Surigao City); Mark Alvin Tan (Mayor; Santiago City, Isabela); and Felipe Gorospe (Vice Mayor; Sison, Pangasinan).

Also declared as nuisance were Cherwin Calimag (Congressman; 2nd District, Cagayan); Mauricio Plaza Jr. (Congressman; 2nd District, Agusan del Sur); Juan Arenasa (Congressman; 1st District, Cebu City); Erlinda Sollano (Congressman; 2nd Distirct, Cebu City); Eliseo Tumulak (Congressman; 1st District, Cebu City); Eustaquio Bueno (Board Member; 1st District, Abra); Bert Abella (Councilor; 2nd District, Cebu City); Ricardo Adlawan (Councilor; 1st District, Cebu City); Jose Cane (Councilor; 2nd District, Cebu City); Gumersindo Canete (Councilor, 2nd District, Cebu City); and Jimmy de Jesus (Councilor; Agusan del Sur).

Nuisance candidates are defined as those whose COCs were found to have been filed "to put the election process in mockery or disrepute or to cause confusion among the voters by the similarity of the names of the registered candidates or by other circumstances or acts which clearly demonstrate that the candidate has no bona fide intention to run for the office."

On the other hand, found to be ineligible to run by the Comelec for failing to meet requirements of the law are Tarajo Abalde (Board Member; Zamboanga Sibugay); Angelica Jalosjos-Carreon (Board Member, Zamboanga del Norte); Janine Bustos (Councilor; 2nd District, Taguig City); Kimberly Cerafica (Councilor; 1st District, Taguig City); Elvis Magnaye (Councilor; 5th District, Quezon City); Jardiya Martele (Councilor; 6th District, Quezon City); Mary Kaye Andres (Councilor; 1st District, Marikina City); Juan Rafael Crespo (Councilor; 1st District, Manila City); Marjorie Asensi (Councilor; Lucena City, Quezon); and Maria Romeo (Councilor; Mutia, Zamboanga del Norte).

The Local Government Code of 1991 provides for the specific qualifications for local candidates such as citizenship, residency period; age; and voter registration.

Meanwhile, the Comelec yesterday acknowledged the temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by the Court of Appeals (CA) on the delisting of actor Aga Muhlach and wife Charlene Gonzales from the list of voters of San Jose, Camarines Sur.

Comelec Commissioner Rene Sarmiento said the TRO will automatically reinstate Muhlach and Gonzales in the certified list of voters.

He said this now makes Muhlach qualified, for the moment, to run for congressman in the Fourth District of Camarines Sur.

Article VI, Section 6 of the Constitution states that "no person shall be a Member of the House of Representatives unless he is a natural-born citizen of the Philippines; on the day of the election, is at least twenty-five years of age; able to read and write; and a registered voter in the district in which he shall be elected, and a resident for a period of not less than one year immediately preceding the day of the election.