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Comelec: Showing of Bato biopic outside campaign period is legal

The showing of the biopic film featuring the life of former Philippine National Police chief Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa will be deemed an election offense if it is shown from February 12 or the start of the campaign period onward, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said Monday.

Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez issued the clarification in connection with the upcoming movie on Dela Rosa's life, which will be portrayed by actor Robin Padilla.  It is expected to hit the big screen on January 30.

“Bottomline, the showing of any cinematographic work featuring the candidates from the start of the campaign period moving forward is considered a violation of election laws. Of course, there is a process to determine who is liable, and anyone else who does it will be subjected to the same process,” Jimenez told reporters.

The Fair Election law which provides that “no movie, cinematograph or documentary portraying the life or biography of a candidate shall be publicly exhibited in a theater, television station or any public forum during the campaign period, and that no movie, cinematograph or documentary portrayed by an actor or media personality who is himself a candidate shall likewise be publicly exhibited in a theater or any public forum during the campaign period.”

Likewise, the Omnibus Election Code states that any person found guilty of any election offense will be punished with imprisonment of not less than one year but not more than six years and shall not be subject to probation.

In addition, the guilty party will be disqualified to hold public office and deprived of the right of vote.

Disqualification takes time

Jimenez said that disqualifying a candidate does not happen immediately.

“Disqualification because of an election law violation is not instant. We need to determine who is liable. I don’t think he (Dela Rosa) will cause the exhibition of this material, but if the lines of accountability are clear and it can be traced all the way up to the candidate, then the candidate will be called to answer for it,” Jimenez said.

“People are getting worked up and getting angry, saying that we are only mentioning one candidate while others have a program. Let me be clear that those are not in violation of anything just yet. It will be a violation once these are shown during the start of campaign period onward,” Jimenez added.

The campaign period for Senate bets, which includes Dela Rosa, ends on May 11. —LDF, GMA News