Comelec vows crackdown on premature campaigning of barangay, SK polls bets

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 3) — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has vowed to go after candidates in the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (BSKE) polls who will start campaigning before the official period.

Comelec chairman George Garcia on Sunday said the crackdown on premature campaigning will start after the period of filing certificates of candidacy (COC) ends this week.

The Comelec extended the period for filing COCs in BSKE to September 4 in Metro Manila and Abra due to the suspension of work in government offices because of inclement weather.

The number of aspirants in the October 30 BSKE could reach 1.5 million, Garcia said. On Saturday, the poll body said 1.18 million have so far filed their COCs.

Garcia said before the campaign period from October 19 to 28, all candidates in the BSKE are prohibited from putting up posters anywhere even if they don’t tell voters to vote for them. Social media posts promoting aspirants are also unlawful.

The poll body chief said the Comelec is relying on rivals to file complaints against candidates who would violate the law.

"Hintayin niyo lang matapos kami sa filing ng candidacy. Iisa-isahin namin ang campaign materials na naglipana kahit sa private property," he said. "Yung mga may social media posts, tanggalin ninyo 'yan. Yung mga may Tiktok, tanggalin ninyo 'yan. Susulatan namin kayo and you have to remove the campaign materials within three days. Ang aming pakiusap, yung mga magkakalaban, sila ang mag-report. Bantayan na lang yan."

[Translation: Just let us finish with the filing of candidacy. Then we'll take on the campaign materials posted even in private properties. Those with social media posts, those on Tiktok, should take them down. We will write to you and you have to remove the campaign materials within three days. We ask rivals to make the reports.]

Garcia said the filing of COCs has been generally peaceful, although he expects the police and military to submit this week a list of 27 local government units that might be placed under Comelec control.

Since the filing of COCs in malls went smoothly, Garcia said the Comelec might continue the practice for local candidates in the 2025 midterm polls. The filing of COCs for senatorial aspirants, however, will likely remain at the Sofitel tent in Pasay City.

Garcia said the Comelec is also thinking of moving voting from schools to shopping establishments in 2025.

A pilot run for mall voting will be held for the BSKE in 12 SM malls in Metro Manila, and one mall each in Legazpi City and Cebu City.

"Kapag naging successful, sa buong Pilipinas sa 2025 gagawin na natin ang mall voting sa lahat ng malls na meron tayo sa buong bansa. Ang gusto natin hindi na gagamitin ang eskwelahan. Pero ang boboto sa malls, yun lang mga barangays na katabi sa malls na yan."

[Translation: If successful, we will conduct mall voting in all malls in the Philippines in 2025. We want to stop using schools. But only those barangays near the malls will be voting in these malls.]