PH politics not a level playing field (Philippines Daily Inquirer)

POLITICAL advertisements on TV and radio stations unmistakably signal that elections are near. But, sadly, experts say that under the law these are not deemed premature campaigning, considering that the personalities they are selling have yet to file their certificates of candidacy. In other words, they are not yet considered candidates, never mind that they are promoting their ambitions to hold a particular elective office before the start of the campaign period.

Article X, Section 80 of the Omnibus Election Code of the Philippines states: It shall be unlawful for any person, whether or not a

voter or candidate, or for any party, or association of persons, to engage in an election campaign or partisan political activity except during the campaign period.

Article I, Section 3 thereof says that the official period of campaign shall commence 90 days before the day of elections for national candidates and 45 days before the local elections for local candidates.

The law may be harsh, but it is still the law, a legal maxim goes. In this case, the law allows only candidates with whooping financial resources to air political advertisements on television channels and radio stations. What about the candidates who are virtually unknown to the people?

I was thinking lately about this hypothetical situation: If I ran for a Senate seat next year, what are my chances of winning?

Comelec records show that I was able to get only 680,211 votes during the 2010 senatorial elections compared to the 19,513,521 votes of the candidate who topped that contest.

Obviously, I am a miniscule candidate compared to rival candidates whose family names are iconic in politics and popular among the masses.

However, I must say too, that during the campaign period I unfailingly participated in all the debates, fora and symposia, thinking that this would boost my identity as a senatorial candidate. I shared my modest views on national issues when interviewed on television and radio programs. I brilliantly debated with rival candidates, confident that I could not be easily outdone by them because I was equipped with my rich experience in local politics, my plain legislative knowledge and skills, my modest educational attainment and, more importantly, the values inculcated and the training I received from the Kapatiran Party on how to answer national issues, using its Passport to a New Philippines.

I was content only with a handful of campaign materials given by the Kapatiran Party. I distributed them to friends and relatives in the provinces. But hardly any of these were noticed by the voters because of the numerous and colorful tarpaulins and flyers of rival candidates conspicuously displayed throughout the country.

It could be daunting to join the 2016 elections, knowing that the law is not fair to all politicians; and, of course, politics in our country is not yet a level playing field.

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