As I See It

LP, UNA both guilty of premature campaigning

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The television commercials of candidates in the May elections have begun although the campaign period does not begin until Feb. 12, a violation of the rule against premature campaigning. Politicians split hairs by saying that these early commercials do not urge the voters to “vote” for the candidates, so they do not violate the ban on premature campaigning. And the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) spokesperson said the trips of its candidates to the provinces were “visits,” not “sorties.” The purpose of these visits, he said, is to “introduce” UNA candidates, not to ask the people to vote for them.

C’mon, who are they kidding? What are those commercials and “visits” for except to persuade voters to vote for the candidates? Don’t take Filipinos for fools. If these candidates, while not yet in office, are already trying to fool the people, imagine what they will do when they are already in power.

It’s a good thing that the Commission on Elections has reduced the total air time of political ads to 120 minutes for television and 180 minutes for radio. A single violation will result in disqualification to vote and run for public office, and in imprisonment. With the new rule, early campaigners and violators, will run out of air time by the time the campaign period reaches the homestretch, when the courting of the voters reaches its peak.

The limitations include the social media, such as Facebook and Twitter. Don’t forget texting. Certain political parties and candidates already have text brigades annoying cell phone owners with their propaganda. Cell phone companies should be warned to do something to stop this practice or else lose their franchises. Ditto for nonpolitical commercials via texts.

What can the voters do to help force politicians obey our laws? Plenty. When a commercial of a candidate is broadcast before the campaign period begins, which is on Feb. 12, write down the candidate’s name and remember not to vote for him/her on election day. Do the same thing for candidates being promoted by the annoying text brigades: Don’t vote for them.

* * *

One of the most opportunistic of early television political commercials is that of Bam (Bum?) Aquino, Liberal Party (LP) candidate for senator.

Why am I singling him out? Because of all the commercials that have appeared so far, his is the one most blatantly and unashamedly taking advantage of his relationship with Ninoy Aquino and his family.

He does not make us forget that his name is Paolo Benigno Aquino IV. His commercial begins with a picture of the martyred Ninoy on the P500 bill. Then Bam (Bum) Aquino’s own image, done to look like Ninoy—hairdo, heavy horn-rimmed eyeglasses, same posture and all—appears beside it, so you can’t help but notice the physical resemblance. Then the picture of the late President Corazon Aquino appears, then that of incumbent President Aquino. Then two fists strike together and the word “Bam” explodes on screen. Bum!

Will you vote for somebody just because he looks like a person you admire? Will you vote for a candidate just because he has the same surname as a dead former president you respect? Will you vote for a candidate just because he is related to the incumbent President? On the contrary, you think you should not because that is nepotism, clear and simple. The Aquinos are expanding their own political dynasty, which is prohibited by the Constitution, ironically written and ratified during President Cory Aquino’s administration.

If Bam (Bum?) does not respect the Constitution approved during the presidency of his own relative whose name and relationship he is capitalizing on, how do you expect him to respect other laws once he is a senator?

Should you vote for a candidate based on his looks and family name? On the contrary, I think that is a big reason for you to look at his intellectual and moral qualifications. The fact that he is capitalizing on his physical resemblance with, and on his having the same name as, Ninoy, and not on his own abilities, can mean he himself realizes he is lacking in the latter.

With such a campaign, he can only fall flat on his face.

Bam!

* * *

By the way, P-Noy, Bam (Bum)’s relative, is also guilty of premature campaigning. He went to Cebu last Wednesday with some of the LP senatorial candidates (Ramon Magsaysay Jr., Jamby Madrigal, Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel, Sen. Koko Pimentel and Rep. Sonny Angara).  Cynthia Villar was represented by her son, Rep. Mark Villar.

P-Noy urged the people to support them. Here is a quote from him:

“Here with us are some of our senatorial candidates, public servants whom I personally chose and trusted. I am the one telling you now, we need them so we could continue to push for the development of our country. Let us support (translation: vote for) them because, not only are they not corrupt, it is also clear to them that they should fight for what is right.”

That was said on Jan. 16. The campaign period does not officially begin until Feb. 12. Is that premature campaigning or not? What does the Comelec say?

If the President himself does not obey and respect our own laws, how can we expect his candidates, his subordinates, his followers and the people to respect them? The oath of office of the President says that he will obey, respect and implement the Constitution and the laws of the land at all times.

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