It is the duty and responsibility of the Commission on Elections, headed by Chairman Andres Bautista, to immediately disqualify Mar Roxas on running as the official Liberal Party candidate for Philippine president. [*] Concerned citizen groups must immediately rally and petition the ComElec to act decisively and swiftly on this gross violation of election laws on two counts: 1) premature nomination of a presidential candidate and, 2) early political campaigning by a presidential candidate in person, his party, and supporters through actual campaign rallies; and placing endorsements on television, outdoor advertising and other media vehicles on a massive spending spree involving millions of pesos.
On a recent live tv interview, Mar Roxas unwittingly admitted that he is guilty of early political campaigning when he said: “We stopped campaigning last Tuesday to pack relief goods,”– obviously relief goods for the victims of Typhoon Lando. Now back to the Philippine Omnibus Election Code. Disqualification for presidential candidates depends on whether the ComElec will approve and apply manual balloting or an automated system of voting by using PCOS machine.
Based on the Omnibus Election Code: “For national candidates for president, vice president, senator and party-list, their campaign period will start on Feb. 9 and, for local candidates, it will be on March 25 (2016). “Under Section 80 of the Omnibus Election Code governing manual election, political parties may hold political conventions or meetings to nominate their official candidates within 30 days before the commencement of the campaign period, and 45 days for presidential and vice-presidential elections. Which means that a presidential candidate can only be nominated by Dec. 16, 2015 since the national elections will take place on Feb. 9, 2016.
Also under Section 80 of the Omnibus Election Code governing manual election, it is clearly stated that: “Political parties may campaign within 30 days before the start of the campaign period, and 45 days for presidential and vice-presidential election.” Since the ComElec approved date for the starting political of presidential and vice-presidential candidates is Feb. 9, a presidential candidate can only start campaigning this coming Dec. 16, 2015. On the other hand, Section 13 of Republic Act 9369 on the automation law mandates that “Political parties may start to nominate their official candidate within 30 days before the start of the period for filing a certificate of candidacy.” Note that presidential hopeful Mar Roxas filed his certificate of candidacy on Oct. 15, 2015. Based on the automated system, Mar Roxas should have only been nominated by his party on Sept. 15, 2015–not before that date.
According the above-mentioned provision of the Philippine Omnibus Election Code, presidential Candidate Mar Roxas, beyond reasonable doubt, flagrantly violated the election laws which states: “Any violation of these provisions constitutes an election offense punishable by imprisonment and perpetual disqualification from holding public office.”
That Mar Roxas patently violated the Omnibus Election Code on two counts, whether a manual or automated voting system is adopted in the 2016 national elections, can be gleaned from these two glaring, incontrovertible facts:
1) On July 31, 2015 at an event dubbed as “A Gathering of Friends,” Manuel Roxas II formally accepted his party’s nomination as the Liberal Party standard bearer after he was formally endorsed by no less than President Benigno Aquino III in the presence of their political allies at the Club Filipino. This is a violation of the Omnibus Election Code for manual voting and Republic Act 9369 of the automation law if the latter is ever adopted by ComElec in the 2016 Philippine national elections.
2) As early as from Aug. 15 to the whole month of Sept. 2015, presidential candidate Mar Roxas and the Liberal Party spent a whooping 257 million pesos, or an average of 9 million pesos per day, on television ads to push up his ratings on the surveys conducted by Pulse Asia and the Social Weather Station. The Mar Roxas camp also put up billboards worth 100 million pesos mostly outside Metro Manila to increase his name-recall. Or a total of 357 million pesos! This is a violation of Section 8o of the Omnibus Election Code whether a manual or automated voting system is used.
So People of the Philippines and all concerned voters, you be the judge whether Mar Roxas should be immediately disqualified or not by the Commission on Elections as a presidential candidate in the 2016 Philippine national elections. Your united judgement and action are vital in the Mar Roxas case to insure fair, honest elections in our country. So act immediately and vote wisely!
[*] First reported by: Felix Fojas Saturday, October 24, 2015