GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/27 March)– Political camps in South Cotabato province have decided to delay the start of their campaigning until next week in observance of the Holy Week or Lenten holidays.
Leaders of the local Liberal Party-National People’s Coalition (LP-NPC), Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (CMD) and United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) parties made such decision in response to an appeal from Diocese of Marbel Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez for local politicians “to devote the Holy Week to God.”
He urged them instead to just start their campaign activities on Monday next week or a day after Easter Sunday.
“After that (Easter Sunday), they’re free to do anything they want,” Gutierrez said.
The bishop reminded candidates to focus their campaigning on issues affecting their constituency and refrain from hurling personal attacks.
South Cotabato (2nd District) Rep. Daisy Avance-Fuentes, who is running for governor under the LP-NPC ticket, said they decided to start campaigning on Monday or April 1.
“We at the provincial level will abide (with the bishop’s request). I think the Holy Week is a time for us to do some spiritual reflection,” she said.
But Fuentes said she could not assure whether the group’s municipal level candidates would also defer their campaigning until Monday.
“I’ve been asking my mayoral candidates to just postpone their activities until April 1 but there were some who are really eager to start early,” she said.
Lakas-CMD gubernatorial bet Fernando Miguel, who has not fielded a full provincial slate, said he will not begin his campaign activities until April 3.
“My opening salvo will be in Koronadal City possibly next week but we have not yet set a specific date,” he said.
Miguel, who is a former mayor of Koronadal City who served for 19 years, will join his son, re-electionist Mayor Peter Miguel, in their campaign sorties in the area.
For the UNA slate, the camp of incumbent re-electionist Gov. Arthur Pingoy Jr. noted that they will begin their campaign activities on April 1.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) had set the start of the local campaign period for the May 13, 2013 elections on March 29 but it falls on Good Friday.
Comelec said any form of campaigning is prohibited on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday as provided for by Republic Act (RA) 7166 or the Synchronized National and Local Elections and Electoral Reforms Act as well as Comelec Resolution 9385.
Section 5 of RA 7166 provides that the campaign period may exclude the day before Election Day, the day of the election itself, Maundy Thursday, and Good Friday.
Comelec Resolution 9385, which set the calendar of activities for the campaign period, excluded Maundy Thursday and Good Friday from the regular campaigning of political candidates.
RA 7166 noted that any violation of such rule constitutes an election offense punishable under Sections 263 and 264 of the Omnibus Election Code.
Section 264 of the code cited that any person found guilty of any election offense may face imprisonment of up to six years, disqualification to hold any public office and deprivation of their right to vote. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)