The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Thursday said giving money as a form of ‘ayuda’ (assistance) by candidates is prohibited once the campaign period for the polls starts.
“That’s prohibited, that is vote-buying. Can’t give anything of value to supporters to encourage them to vote. You might say that is for another reason but none of us are born yesterday. We all know that it’s going to be for vote-buying purposes,” Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said in a virtual press briefing.
Jimenez appealed to those who will witness such an illegal act to file a complaint and pursue it.
“It’s very important. For those who see such things being done, you feel are vote-buying activities, please file a complaint. And please stay with the complaint so we can prosecute to the finish,” he said.
The 90-day campaign period for national posts such as president, vice-president, senator, and party-list groups will begin on February 8, while the 45-day campaign period for local aspirants will start on March 25.
Meanwhile, he said candidates would have to take down their illegally placed posters once the campaign period starts.
He said the Comelec campaign committee will release the guidelines soon. Jimenez also warned that illegally placed campaign materials will be taken down.
The Comelec meanwhile assured that its preparations for the May polls will not be hampered by the retirement of three senior officials.
Jimenez said these preparations have long been in place and have already been tackled in the past months. Jimenez also expressed confidence that the remaining officials — acting chair Socorro Inting and Commissioners Marlon Casquejo, Aimee Ferolino, and Rey Bulay — will be able to cope with challenges.
Jimenez added that the poll body will not issue an appeal for the immediate appointment of new commissioners.
On Monday, Malacañang said President Rodrigo Roa Duterte already has a shortlist of possible appointees to replace the three retired officials — Chairperson Sheriff Abas and Commissioners Rowena Guanzon and Antonio Kho Jr.
Jimenez added that he is filing his resignation as spokesperson of the poll body to give Inting the opportunity to choose whoever she wants to designate to the position.