Politicians at it again: Election candidates use Black Nazarene procession to campaign

Photo: ABS-CBN News
Photo: ABS-CBN News

Wow, some people (Read: politicians) just have no boundaries whatsoever.

It turns out that some candidates in the upcoming mid-term elections have started hanging posters of themselves along the Black Nazarene procession route devotees will be following come Wednesday.

According to ABS-CBN News, some of these posters even feature our dear President Rodrigo Duterte doing his signature clenched fist.

Commission on Elections (COMELEC) spokesperson James Jimenez, of course, is not in favor of this.

He told reporters earlier today that politicians should not turn the feast of the Black Nazarene into an opportunity to campaign.

“We don’t want politics to be involved in that observance,” Jimenez was quoted saying in Filipino by GMA News.

In the Philippines, every year starts with the feast of the Black Nazarene of Quiapo on Jan. 9, the grandest religious event in the country. It is a much-anticipated event that has millions of devotees walking a crowded procession’s route.

Politicians often take advantage of this captive audience, making sure to install campaign posters in the area where people have no choice but to look at them.

“There is a time for politics. The campaign period is coming up very fast and many politicians have already been campaigning anyway,” Jimenez said, reported by ABS-CBN News. “What is one day to just give Filipinos a chance to focus on this very important part of their community life?”

The campaign period for those running for national positions in this year’s mid-term elections will run from Feb. 12 until May 11. Those running for local positions, on the other hand, can campaign from March 30 to May 11. Election day is on May 13.

Ever since the Supreme Court decision in 2009 which ruled that premature campaigning is no longer an election offense, candidates started plastering their names and faces all over the country as early as they can in an attempt to gain more votes.

However, campaigning too early is still frowned upon.

Former Special Assistant to the President (SAP) Bong Go, who is running for senator, is often blasted for being such an eager beaver.

Just last year, he was promoted in a rap video and featured on cell phone boxes distributed at a Malacañang Palace event.

His posters were also hung in the public Philippine General Hospital and his name appeared on basketball shoes distributed in villages.

The COMELEC has also warned against former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Ronald “Bato (Rock)” dela Rosa’s biopic titled Bato, The General Ronald dela Rosa Story, which stars Duterte loyalist, action star Robin Padilla.

Jimenez said yesterday that dela Rosa’s movie cannot be shown during the campaign period as this is a violation of election rules.

Meanwhile, the EcoWaste Coalition also urged politicians not to put up posters at the Black Nazarene procession route as it will only turn into “ugly litter.”

“We urge our politicians to show respect for the time-honored commemoration of the ‘traslacion’ (procession) by not putting up tarpaulins and distributing leaflets and other promotional materials which will only turn into ugly litter,” EcoWaste Coalition’s Zero Waste campaigner Daniel Alejandre was quoted saying by The Philippine Daily Inquirer.

ABS-CBN News reported that Jimenez said that they will ask candidates to “take down these materials, whether or not they themselves caused their posting.”

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