Bets begin bid for 16,243 positions

MANILA – The Commission on Elections boosted their online presence as part of their monitoring preparations as politicians across the nation began campaigning for 16,243 vacant elective positions on Saturday.

Already, the poll body has received complaints from the public that politicians in their areas started campaigning on Good Friday, a violation of election rules specified in Comelec Resolution 9385, according to Comelec spokesman James Jimenez.

“We have [also] received reports of campaign materials near churches. Some of the reports say tarpaulins were placed opposite churches,” Jimenez said, explaining that the act is also a violation of Comelec Resolution 9615 which provides that campaign materials may only be placed in common poster areas.

“We are still in the process of receiving reports, and we will be compiling them,” he said, adding that the commission has increased its presence in online social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, to provide the public a forum for their complaints.

“If you look at the side streets, look up and around, there are still so many violators,” Jimenez said, urging the public to file complaints.

Responsive citizens, Jimenez said, can use any of the 10 new Twitter accounts that the commission created for the purpose. He urged compainants to use the Twitter hashtag #SumbongKo.

Jimenez said the Comelec will also field compliance teams beginning Monday to verify the complaints and the reports will be referred to local officials for possible action.

He also reminded politicians that violations of election campaign rules is considered a criminal offense that is punishable with a penalty of one to six years imprisonment, removal of right to vote and disqualification from holding public office.

Jimenez said the commission has received several reports from the provinces, particularly in the Visayas and Mindanao.

Jimenez issued the reminder as the 45-day campaign period for local candidates began on Saturday.

Comelec Resolution 9385, or the calendar of activities for the May 13 election, originally provided that it the campaign period should start on March 29, but the poll body moved it to Saturday because it coincided with Good Friday.

The Comelec had earlier said vacancies that will be filled up by the elections include 233 seats in the House of Representatives, 80 governorships and vice-governorships, 766 provincial board memberships, 143 city mayorships and city vice-mayorships, 1,491 town mayorships and vice-mayorships, 1,598 city councilorships and 11,932 town councilorships.