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Comelec: Candidates should remove early campaign propaganda

Candidates in the midterm elections in May will have to remove any posters promoting them or their projects before the start of the prescribed campaign period, according to Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. "Yun 'yung anti-'epal' provision namin. You have to remove it before the start of the campaign period... For as long as they are already out, by the start of February 12 dapat malinis na 'yun," Brillantes said Monday. According to Resolution 9615, Comelec prohibits propaganda that include "any names, images, logos, brands, insignias, color motifs, initials, and other forms of identifiable graphical representations placed by incumbent officials on any public structures or places." The campaign period for national candidates will be from February 12 to May 11, while for local candidatesones it will be from March 30 to May 11. “Epal” refers to a practice by certain politicians to promote themselves by affixing their names on posters of government projects. Under Resolution No. 9616, the Comelec through the Campaign Finance Unit, will "issue notices to remove campaign materials to candidates and/or parties whose campaign materials are posted in public places or places not authorized as common poster areas." Candidates with political parties may put up their campaign posters on not more than 10 common poster areas (plazas, markets, barangay centers, among others) that measure 12 by 16 feet. Independent candidates, meanwhile, may post on not more than 10 common poster areas that are four by six feet in size. The Comelec will also send a "Notice To Remove Campaign Materials" to the violating candidate. "You are hereby ordered to remove the said campaign materials, regardless of whoever was responsible for posting the same, within three days from receipt of this notice," the Comelec wrote in its template letter. Asked about campaign gimmicks painted or posted on public utility vehicles, Brillantes said they could still regulate PUVs since these have license from government. "Tatanggalin rin naman. Dapat hindi pwede... Kung public utility, that’s regulated. Kasi meron silang license, meron silang certificate of convenience from government. So we can control them," he said. Brillantes also asid even product endorsements by candidates will be removed. "Kahit na product endorsement 'yan, that’s already advertising as far as we are concerned. Kasi kandidato ka. That’s indirect political campaigning, using product as a means to campaign." The Comelec will monitor  campaign expenses and contributions of candidates only during the campaign period. Premature campaigning will not be accounted for in the total expenditures. According to Comelec Resolution No. 9476, president and vice president candidates are required to spend P10 for every registered voter, candidates with political parties to spend P3 each voter, and independent candidates with P5 per voter. Meanwhile, the Fair Elections Act allows only 120 minutes of television and 180 minutes of radio advertisements to each candidate and registered political party. Local candidates are only allowed 60 minutes on television and 90 minutes on radio. Comelec through Resolution No. 9615 will require TV and radio air time to be accounted in aggregate, or for each major station only. Before, candidates campaigned through different regional stations. Pamphlets, leaflets, cards, and other printed materials must not exceed eight and one half inches in width and 14 inches in length, according to the Fair Elections Act. Cloth, paper or cardboard posters must not exceed two feet by three feet. Print advertisements meanwhile must only be within one-fourth of a page in broadsheets and one-half in tabloids, thrice a week per publication. — Marc Jayson Cayabyab/KBK, GMA News