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Poll campaign extension shelved

The  Commission on Elections said on Tuesday   that it will no longer extend the campaign period for all candidates who will  run in  the May 2016  polls.

Comelec commissioner Christian Lim said that the agency’s law department   advised against    extending the campaign period for 120 days since such a plan is illegal.

“Based on the opinion of the Law Department, we cannot do that legally,”  said Lim,    the chairman of the   Comelec – Steering Committee   for the May   2016 elections.

“We cannot start the campaign period   on   January 10,” he said, adding that the agency has already finalized its Calendar of Activities for the   2016 elections.

Lim said that  Republic Act 8436, prohibits  Comelec  from  adjusting the start of the campaign period.

“When we looked at the deliberation of Congress, it was clear that the Comelec does not have any authority   to move the campaign period,” Lim admitted.

 Comelec will  thus keep the  original   campaign period of 90 days for candidates for national positions and 45 days for those running for local office.  

“For national candidates president, vice president, senators and party-lists, the campaign period will start   on   February 9   and for local candidates, it will be   on   March 25,” Lim said.  

Comelec chairman Andres Bautista on the other hand called for a law  against  premature campaign activities. “We need a law to   basically amend the current law so as to prohibit premature campaigning,” Bautista said.

He said the decision now lies among the wisdom of the voters whether or not they will vote those candidates who blatantly conduct  promotional activities even before the campaign period starts.

“I think our voters should take that into consideration when choosing who they will vote for in 2016. If they believe that some candidates are circumventing the spirit of the law then they should not vote for these candidates,” the poll chief said.

Republic Act 9369 or the Poll Automation Law provides that “any person who files his certificate of candidacy (COC) shall only be considered as a candidate at the start of the campaign period” and that “unlawful acts applicable to a candidate shall be in effect only upon that start of the campaign period.”

Meanwhile, the Comelec said it will make the source code available for review twice with the first one coming as early as October and the other one sometime in February 2016.

Bautista said the first one to be reviewed will be the base code or the source code of the automated election system (AES) that has yet to be customized by the Comelec while the other one is the exact source code to be used by the voting machines on Election Day.

“We know in previous elections, the source code was not made available for review until the latter part of the elections. So we wanted to do something against that… there will be two reviews to be conducted in this regard,” he said.

The source code is defined as the human readable instructions that dictate what the automated election system will do.

Earlier, the Comelec said it has decided to tap SLI Global Solutions (also known as Systems Lab, Inc. / Systest Labs) to again conduct the review and certification of the source code.

RA 9369 also provides that once an AES technology is selected for implementation, the Commission shall immediately make the source code available and open to any interested political party or groups for the conduct of their own review, Comelec said.

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