Comelec legal chief: No change in stand on celeb endorsers

By DateLine Philippines

The head of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) legal department said Tuesday that there has been no change in the poll body’s position that celebrities who endorse candidates without resigning or going on leave are breaking the law.

Ferdinand Rafanan made the clarification following news reports quoting election commissioner Gregorio Larazzabal as saying media personalities can endorse candidates without having to stop working.

Rafanan said over dzMM radio that he attended a meeting of the Comelec en banc Monday on the status of celebrity endorsers.

He said the poll body agreed to release an en banc resolution on the matter but added that, since the implementing rules and guidelines of the Fair Elections Act have already been released, there is no need to explain the matter of political endorsement by celebrities.

He specifically cited Section 6.6 of the Fair Elections Act, which says: “Any mass media columnist, commentator, announcer, reporter, on-air correspondent or personality who is a candidate for any elective public office or is a campaign volunteer for or employed or retained in any capacity by any candidate or political party shall be deemed resigned, if so required by their employer, or shall take a leave of absence from his/her work as such during the campaign period.”

“If you (are a celebrity endorser and) do not take a leave of absence and you are still working, you commit an election offense. In these times, there should a rule of law. If there are candidates who are looking for flaws in the law, then the public should not vote (for) them,” Rafanan said.

“Maganda na hintayin natin ang en banc resolution. Pero ang en banc ay kino-quote lang ang batas,” Rafanan said.

“Kasi ang batas maliwanag eh. Hindi po pwedeng baguhin ang batas. Ang hindi po pag-implement ay paglabag din,” he added.

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