Ateneo de Davao University (AdDU) Commission on Elections (COMELEC) imposed a warning to political party Pinag-isang Lakas ng mga Progresibong Atenista (Piglasapat) as first offense for campaigning earlier than the period specified.
Released on Jan. 12, Memorandum No. 2019-02 informs the public of Piglasapat’s violation of Article 14, Section 1, Subsection G, Number 1 of the SAMAHAN Central Board Election Guidelines, which states that “Any candidate or political party that holds campaign activities earlier and after the campaign period specified by the commission shall be guilty of an election offense.”
The campaign period, as specified by COMELEC, started on Jan. 9 during the launching of the candidates until Jan. 29.
However, it was discovered that prior to the start of the campaign period, AB Psychology student Sophia Cruz sent a message to their class’s group chat, inviting them to wear ‘blue’ in support of her political party, Piglasapat.
Complaints reached COMELEC and consequently considered the act as a form of campaign. The commission declared it an election offense.
In her twitter account, Cruz posted her apology letter addressed to Piglasapat and COMELEC, saying that her only intention was to show support to her political party.
“It was really an honest mistake in my part and with my purest intention to show my full support to the party. I can indeed say that ignorance to the law excuses no one,” Cruz stated.
COMELEC reiterated that any subsequent violations of the same nature, if proven factual, shall be met with concrete sanctions.
In an interview, Francis Consolacion, Piglasapat’s candidate for presidency, shared his disappointment regarding COMELEC’s immediate call for a violation.
“We were also dismayed na ganun agad ‘yung nangyari. The COMELEC immediately released the memo without even clarifying or giving us time to defend ourselves,” the lone presidential said in an interview with Atenews.
In support to this, Trixy Marie Macaraeg, Piglasapat’s one of the campaign managers, also shared that the definition for premature campaigning as stipulated in the election guidelines was “not clearly established.”
“We weren’t informed [on] the definition of premature campaigning, like hindi s’ya na-establish nang maayos ba. With that, since na-release naman ang violation upon us and then we can’t deny din naman because it was true, so we have to admit it na lang,” Macaraeg explained.
Atenews tried to contact and ask the legal commissioner of COMELEC about Piglasapat’s apparent dismay over the controversy. As of press time, there is no response from the commission.