With only two weeks left before the campaign period wraps up, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) reminds incumbent city and municipal mayors “to play fair” in issuing permits to conduct political rallies for the 2019 midterm election period.
“Play a fair game. Let us not deprive voters the chance to get to know their candidates to help them decide whom to vote for,” says DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año, following President Rodrigo Duterte’s remark that some local officials are refusing to grant permits for political rallies to their opponents.
“Kung gusto kayo ng tao, iboboto nila kayo ulit. So let’s not resort to shenanigans and just present your platform to the people and allow them to make intelligent choices,” he adds.
Through DILG Memorandum Circular 2019-61, Año says Section 87 of Batas Pambansa Bilang 881 or the Omnibus Election Code states that any political party may hold peaceful political rallies, meetings, and other similar activities during the campaign period.
The same provision of the law provides that application for permits must be acknowledged in writing, posted in conspicuous places in the city of municipal buildings, and acted upon in writing by the authorities concerned within three days after its filing and any application not acted upon within said period shall be deemed approved.
“The right of candidates to hold political rallies was also reiterated in a Commission on Elections (Comelec) resolution which provides that they should be given equal and fair opportunity as to date, time and place, to hold public political rallies,” says Año.
Comelec Resolution No. 10488 dated January 30, 2019 also states that “it is unlawful for any candidate, party, or any person to give or accept, free of charge, directly or indirectly, transportation, food and drinks, or anything of value during and within five hours before and after a public meeting or to give or contribute, directly or indirectly, money or things of value for such purpose.”
“Both the Omnibus Election Code and the Comelec resolution stress that the only justifiable ground to deny an application for permit is when a prior written application by another candidate or political party for the same purpose has been approved,” says Año.
Said denial may still be appealed to the provincial election supervisor or the regional election supervisor, for cases in the National Capital Region, who shall decide on the matter within 48 hours and notify the concerned parties, he says.
“All local officials are reminded that as public officers, it is our duty to uphold free, orderly, honest, peaceful and credible elections. Hence, compliance with existing election laws shall take precedence over personal interests,” the DILG Secretary says.
The campaign period is almost three months for senatorial candidates and party-list groups and over one month for governors down to municipal councilors and for district representatives.