The Commission on Election (Comelec) reiterated that posting banners urging Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte to run is not a violation of election laws.
“Technically, there is no violation because in order for premature campaigning to be committed there should be an official candidate,” Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said in an interview on ABS-CBN News.
Jimenez added that banners and posters urging a person to run do not tantamount to premature campaigning yet.
“And no official candidate exists right now. In fact, we are not even filing the certificate of candidacy yet. So, since there is no official candidate, there can be no crime or should we say offense of premature campaigning,” he added.
Jimenez said the “Run Sara Run” banners, which have been slammed by several social media users as early campaigning, were “a matter of free expression.”
“These people have the right to actually promote the candidacy of anyone that they want. They could put up a banner that says ‘Christian Run’ and it won’t make a difference because it’s a matter of free expression,” he added.
Jimenez said that voters should be more cautious when candidates campaign this early, even if they have yet to file their certificates of candidacy.
“You are putting a premium on the ability to go out and campaign this early, which means you have a bigger war chest, which means you have more money, which means that ultimately candidates with more resources are in a better position to win the election. So, I think people should reject candidates who are campaigning this early or who are tolerating other people campaigning in their name, even if they haven’t yet filed their certificate of candidacy,” Jimenez said.