Press Release
September 8, 2012


Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, chair of the Senate committee on constitutional amendments, revision of codes and laws, warned senatoriables of a backlash against premature campaigns, as she announced that she will file a bill to prohibit and penalize all forms of illegal electioneering.

She urged her audience and the public to use social media such as Twitter, Facebook, and blogs to protest the ongoing premature campaigns by certain senatoriables.

Santiago was guest speaker at a symposium on Saturday, September 8, sponsored by the graduate student council of the EARIST State College at Nagtahan, Manila.

The senator said that because of a controversial 2009 Supreme Court decision, a premature campaign is no longer an offense, thus creating what she called "a wretched loophole in the law." She called the present situation "preposterous, ridiculous, and ludicrous.

"It might be legal, but is it ethical?" Santiago asked her audience of some 1,000 college students.

Santiago said she will file a bill to amend the Poll Automation Law, Section 13 which provides that "a person shall only be considered as a candidate at the start of the campaign period for which he filed his certificate of candidacy."

According to a Comelec resolution, the campaign period for the May 2013 elections begins on 12 February 2013, but since August, some candidates have been advertising themselves in traditional media, meaning TV, radio, and print.

The confusion about premature campaigning was caused by the controversial split decision of the Supreme Court in the 2009 case of Penera v. Comelec.

Santiago said that to overturn the controversial Penera decision, her bill will require candidates to file a Certificate of Intention to Run for Public Office or CIRPO, six months before the deadline for the filing of a certificate of candidacy.

Santiago's CIRPO bill will prohibit any potential candidate from certain acts, such as endorsing any product or service; accepting any employment in any media outfit; or buying any space in radio, print, or TV to advertise himself or any product or service.

The senator said her bill will give the Comelec the power to define what constitutes electioneering.

Although Santiago has been absent for sometime from Senate sessions, because of health issues, she said that she forced herself to appear as a courtesy to EARIST, which invited her two months ago. But she said it is problematic whether she can attend Senate sessions before the break, which begins on September 22.

EARIST stands for Eulogio Amang Rodriguez Institute of Science and Technology.

Santiago began her speech with her anticipated jokes, particularly pick-up lines.

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