By Samuel P. Medenilla, March 15 2019; Business Mirror

Image Credit to Philippine Star

National candidates in the May 2019 polls who were found to have violated election rules for campaign materials may soon face multiple charges from  regional offices of the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

This, after the poll body announced it has set a “target quota” for its regional offices for cases involving illegal campaign materials.

“For national [candidates], we are targeting one per region,” Comelec Spokesman James B. Jimenez said in a news conference on Wednesday.

Jimenez said their regional directors and election officers are now coordinating with concerned government agencies in going after the erring candidates.

He said some of their regional offices are still in the case build up stage, while others have already filed the necessary charges.

The Comelec, however, explained it cannot yet reveal the names of those who will face charges or already have a pending cases.

“We don’t want to give any clue because we don’t want to preempt what we are doing,” Jimenez said.

Last month, the Comelec and its partner government agencies have started clearing the country‘s major thoroughfares of oversized and/or illegally placed campaign materials.

Illegal campaign posters and streamers, which were removed during the activity, were kept by Comelec to serve as evidence against the candidates, who may have benefited from the said materials.

In a related development, the Comelec also said it will soon be sending notices to local candidates to remove their campaign materials before the start of their campaign period on March 29.

The campaign period for national candidates already started on February 12.

“We will be coming out with a notice by the end of the week for the local candidates to start taking down their materials,” Jimenez said.

During the campaign period, the Comelec will start the strict implementation of its rules for campaign materials including its size and proper area for its posting.

Violation of the said rules is considered an election offense which is punishable by imprisonment, perpetual disqualification from holding public office, and being barred from exercising their right to vote.

The election period for both national and local candidates will end on May 11.