The Philippines has entered the official election period Jan. 13 but does that mean candidates running in the midterm polls can start campaigning?
Not so fast, the poll chief said Monday, in a subtle jab at politicians popularly tagged as "epal" for ubiquitous "premature campaigning".
"Official campaigning should not begin until the start of the campaign period, Commission on Elections Chairman Sixto Brillantes said via Twitter.
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"'Election period' is different from the 'campaign period'. I hope politicians will not mistake one for the other," Brillantes said in another post.
This, as he noted that the campaign period starts only on Feb. 12, 2013 for national candidates, namely those eyeing Senate seats.
For local candidates, the official campaign period is set to start March 29, 2013, Brillantes tweeted.
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Last September, however, the poll chief admitted that his hands are tied when it comes to premature campaigning.
Brillantes cited a Supreme Court ruling which said that persons who have filed certificates of candidacy shall only be considered candidates at the start of the campaign period.
He meanwhile appealed to the media last October to be circumspect about granting interviews with politicians running in the May 2013 elections.
This, as Brillantes noted that the interviews may give candidates "unnecessary exposure," which he said is tantamount to "indirect campaigning".
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The Comelec chairman also reminded the public that apart from carrying firearms, the following are prohibited acts during the election season (Jan 13 to June 12):
-transfer or movement of officers and employees in the civil service;
-use of security personnel or bodyguards by candidates, unless authorized in writing by the Commission;
-organization or maintenance of reaction forces, strike forces o other similar forces; and
-suspension of elective local officials.
Philippine health authorities said Wednesday they have quarantined a Filipino who arrived from the Middle East because he tested positive for the deadly MERS virus. The man, who arrived in the Philippines on Tuesday, is not yet showing symptoms but has been isolated in hospital, Health Secretary Enrique Ona said. The Health Department is also quarantining the man's family and tracing the people who had contact with him during his flight to see if they may also be infected with the MERS or …