The Commission on Elections (Comelec) reminded aspiring Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Officials on Thursday, September 7, that distribution of items like t-shirts, fans, caps, and ballers as part of campaigning for the 2023 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE) could potentially be viewed as vote-buying or vote-selling.
In a public briefing, Comelec spokesperson Rex Laudiangco warned that this may cause the candidates disqualification and prohibition to hold public office.
“Any other kind of campaign paraphernalia katulad ng t-shirts, ball caps, baller bands, at iba pa iyan po kasi ay maaaring ma-consider, dahil may halaga ito, na isang pamamaraan ng pamimili ng boto,” he said.
“Itong mga bagay na ‘to kung mapapatunayan natin, maari ring magdulot ng inyong disqualification, kung mareresolba kaagad ang kaso, maaari kayong matanggal sa listahan ng mga kandidato,” added.
A memorandum released by the poll body earlier indicated that the distribution of campaign materials closely associated with a candidate or party is prohibited.
Candidates interested in using campaign materials not allowed under the law must request a special permit from the Comelec. Failing to do so during the ten-day campaign period could potentially lead to vote-buying allegations, as these items hold value.
Vote-buying and vote-selling are classified as election offenses under Section 261 of the Omnibus Election Code, punishable by imprisonment ranging from one to six years. Convicted individuals are also stripped of their voting rights, barred from holding public office, and subject to fines if they belong to a political party found guilty of vote-buying.
Laudiangco also outlined the maximum allowable sizes for campaign materials: posters and tarpaulins should not exceed 2×3 feet, leaflets and fliers should be 8.5×14 inches, and banners and streamers should be limited to 3×8 feet.
The Comelec has established a formal committee to coordinate with law enforcement agencies to address vote-buying and vote-selling in the country.
Commissioner Ernesto Maceda Jr. has been named as the commissioner-in-charge for the Committee on Kontra Bigay, which focuses on addressing these issues.