MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections is looking into possible violations of election laws by reelectionist senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero and the person behind the distribution of candies bearing the surname “Binay.”
“Yesterday, may nagtanong kay Chairman (Sixto) Brillantes kung kasama ang product endorsement, dapat kasama na iyon [Yesterday, somebody asked Chairman Sixto Brillantes if product endorsements were included, that should be included]” Jimenez told reporters in an interview.
Citing reports from netizens, Jimenez said Escudero’s face is seen on the packaging of a hotdog brand and a paint product. Meanwhile, netizens also reported that candies being distributed to the public bear the surname Binay.
The products endorsed by Escudero and the Binay candies came out before the start of the official campaign period on Tuesday, February 12.
Jimenez said that if it would be proven that Escudero’s endorsement violated election laws, “the packaging, not the product, should be pulled out from the market.”
But Jimenez was quick to add that the Comelec won’t be hasty on its actions against Escudero.
“(W)e should always remember that the problem lies on the cost. Baka may legal question pa d’yan, kasama iyan sa minomonitor natin [There coud be some legal questions there, that’s part of what we are monitoring]” he said.
Jimenez said the poll body would find out whether Escudero had spent for endorsing the two products or he acted simply as an endorser.
“So we need to study the situation. Ang isa sa mga goals ng monitoring [One of the goals of monitoring] is to ensure that costs are identified, second, the common poster area rule… should be followed,” Jimenez said.
“Now, if the material has no apparent cost to the endorser, sila naman ang binabayaran doon eh, kumikita pa siya doon. Pangalawa may distinct commercial interest, kailangan balansehin natin iyon. So we will leave that [decision] to the [Comelec] en banc,” added Jimenez.
[Now, if the material has no apparent cost to the endorser, that they were the ones who were paid for it, then it’s the endorsers who benefited. Second, there’s distinct commercial interest there, we should balance that. So we will leave the decision to the Comelec en banc.]
On the case of Binay candies, Jimenez said there is a Binay running for the May 13 polls thus the Comelec is also looking on whether the giveaways were distributed nationwide as part of the candidate’s campaign materials. Nancy Binay, the daughter of Vice President Jejomar Binay, is among the senatorial candidates of the United Nationalist Alliance.
“May kandidatong Binay. Eh kapag may nakita kaming ganoon, tinitingnan natin, kasi one of our concern is the maliliit na give aways na ganyan. Kasi kung isa lamang ang maliit na giveaway, ayos lang iyan. Pero, kung ginawa mo iyan sa buong Pilipinas, ang dami noon, may cost iyon, so kailangan tingnan natin iyon,” Jimenez said.
[There is a candidate who is a Binay. And if we see one like that, we look into it because one of our concerns is the distribution of giveaways like that. It won’t matter if it’s just a one-time distribution of giveaways. But if you’re doing it nationwide, it’s a lot and there’s cost involved, so we need to monitor that.]
Also, Jimenez said the Comelec was looking for evidence on senatorial candidate Richard Gordon’s alleged violation of election campaign rules since posters and streamers of the Philippine National Red Cross bear his face. Gordon is the national chairman of the PNRC.
“If the material seen is boosting your chances of winning that is not allowed in the rules,” said Jimenez.