20 February 2014, 8:20 a.m. – LAKAS Tomasino Coalition (LTC) is barred from campaigning today, the last day of the campaign period, after getting a two-day suspension due to election-related violations.

The suspension was supposed to take effect yesterday, but was delayed after LTC filed a motion for reconsideration last Feb. 18, which allowed it to hold campaigns except room-to-room visits. LTC’s motion was dismissed by the Central Commission on Elections (Comelec) yesterday due to lack of merit.

But the suspension was further put on hold even after the dismissal of LTC’s motion for reconsideration after the party filed a motion for clarification on the same day to discuss with the Comelec the scope of the no-campaign sanction. The motion for clarification was approved at five in the afternoon.

LTC chairman and former CSC vice president Raymond Angelo Gonzales said the party had filed a motion for reconsideration due to alleged “lack of due process,” adding that LTC did not receive Comelec’s resolution immediately.

“Ang nangyari kasi, sinasabi ng Comelec na they weren’t able to give the memorandum. They did their best naman daw to contact me pero wala kasi akong natanggap from them. I do not want to put the Comelec in a bad light kaya we filed a motion for reconsideration na lang,” Gonzales said in a phone interview with the Varsitarian.

A Comelec resolution said LTC committed premature campaigning in social networking sites Facebook and Twitter last Jan. 28 after posting “pre-campaign paraphernalia” such as a Facebook cover photo and tweets, among others. This was considered the party’s first offense.

But Gonzales said the posting of such materials was not intended for campaign and was only in line with the celebration of the party’s anniversary.

On Feb. 5, a day before the campaign period started, Gonzales posted on his Twitter account a photo of the party’s candidates facing backwards, which was regarded by the Comelec as a second offense and a ground for campaign suspension.

Complaints were filed by rival party Lakas ng Diwang Tomasino (Lakasdiwa).

The two incidents, the resolution said, violated Sec. 1.2, Art. VII of the University Students Election Code of 2011, which states that “no person shall be allowed to campaign on the first day of second semester until the campaign period prescribed by the Comelec.”

Also under Sec. 5.3 (3) of the same article: “[A]ny material drawn or printed containing the name of a candidate or political party, or any symbol, sign, phrase, or word, which a candidate or political party is known, even without the word vote, shall be deemed a campaign material and should not be used or distributed before the campaign period.”

In effect, LTC will not be allowed to conduct room-to-room campaigns and distribute flyers today. Only online campaigning is permitted by Comelec.

Lakasdiwa campaign manager Corsico Espiritu said he was disappointed with the delay of the sanction, adding that only a higher court–the Central Judiciary Board–could issue a temporary restraining order against the resolution.

“Hindi natutupad ‘yung essence ng two-day suspension, e last two days na ‘to [ng campaign.] Nasaan ‘yung fairness doon? Nasaan ‘yung ipin? As Comelec, dapat pinanghahawakan niyo kung ano ‘yung decision niyo,” Espiritu told the Varsitarian in an interview.

A half-day campaign suspension also took effect last Feb. 18 after LTC failed to comply with Comelec’s requirement to send at least 40 new members to the Mandatory Recruitment Forum. Only 28 LTC members attended.

Today, Feb. 20, is the last day of the campaign period. Proclamation of new CSC officers is set tomorrow. Celton F. Ramirez


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