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Comelec to monitor candidates' color motifs

(Updated 8:16 p.m.) Even color motifs of candidates in the May midterm elections will be monitored by the Commission on Elections (Comelec). Commissioner Rene Sarmiento on Wednesday said campaign colors on shirts and other accessories that may be seen on any medium will be monitored as additional campaign expense and airtime. According to Resolution No. 9615, prohibited forms of propaganda include “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…” Sarmiento said: “If identified with a candidate used for partisan political activities, iba na ‘yung mensahe ng kulay. Colors mean a lot. They are symbols. Kaya naisip ng Commission na pati ‘yung kulay i-monitor na namin.” He said they would prohibit candidates wearing shirts with their campaign colors while appearing on television and other medium. However, they may still wear their campaign colors during their sorties. “Baka mas tama ‘yung point mo na broadcast, sa television. Mas dun na reasonable na interpretation [ng resolution]. Common sense ‘yan. Law is common sense naman,” Sarmiento said. He added that these television appearances with the campaign colors will be considered additional exposure and will be reduced from the prescribed airtime. Also, spending incurred with the propaganda will also be added to the campaign expenses of the candidate, Sarmiento said. The Comelec is allowing 120 minutes of television air time for national candidates and 60 minutes for local bets. Meanwhile, president and vice president candidates are allowed to spend P10 for every registered voter, candidates with political parties to spend P3 each voter, and independent candidates with P5 per voter. Sarmiento added that a candidate may exceed his or her campaign limits due to the habitual wearing of campaign colors, thus committing an election offense. According to the Omnibus Election Code, a candidate or incumbent official convicted of election offense may be imprisoned for one to six years and shall be perpetually disqualified from running for office.   “When taken repeatedly and habitually, ‘yung mismong kulay, may kulay na rin. This will be monitored by the Comelec,” Sarmiento said. He noted though that their rules on penalizing offenses have yet to be discussed by the en banc. So far, the Comelec may only account the spending on color motifs and other prohibited propaganda as additional election expense. "Again, silent ang rules. Pwedng presyuhan ang paggamit ng ganyan. Also, these are dark areas in the resolution that we still have to discuss and fine tune,” Sarmiento said. For his part, Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. said monitoring the color motif may be on a case-to-case basis. He said they wanted to observe the campaign period first to see how politicians abused their campaign colors for their advantage. “[It’s a] case-to-case basis and then observation lang. We just want to make sure we’re regulating. Baka somebody might take advantage of the colors. As a mode of propaganda, palaging nakakurbata. Ina-anticipate lang namin ‘yung mga propaganda skills ng mga kandidato. Inuunahan lang namin,” Brillantes said..   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. The campaign period for national candidates will start from February 12 to May 11, while local bets from March 30 to May 11. — KBK, GMA News