Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Mobile phones, cameras prohibited in precincts

January 12, 2010, 4:53pm

Original Story: http://mb.com.ph/articles/238190/mobile-phones-cameras-prohibited-precincts

To ensure that voters would be free from dictation or intimidation while exercising their right of suffrage, the Commission on Elections has prohibited the use of cellular phones and cameras inside polling places during the upcoming local and national elections in May.

The Comelec, led by Chairman Jose A.R. Melo, said the board of election inspectors (BEI) that will supervise the electronic voting and counting is empowered under Section 10 (d) of en banc Resolution No. 8739 to prohibit anyone from carrying cellular phones and cameras inside polling places.

The resolution, signed by Melo and Commissioners Rene V. Sarmiento, Nicodemo T. Ferrer, Lucenito N. Tagle, Armando C. Velasco, Elias R. Yusoph, and Gregorio Y. Larrazabal, said the BEI is obliged to maintain order within the polling place and its premises.

Melo said if anyone insists on using cellular phones or cameras, the BEI may issue an order in writing directing any peace officer to take such person into custody until the adjournment of the elections, but said such order shall not be executed as to prevent any person from voting.

The BEI is likewise required to hold its meetings in public and in the polling place designated by the Comelec. It is also required to decide by majority vote, without delay, all questions which may arise in the performance of its duties.

Meanwhile, the poll body said it will begin airing and printing infomercials about the elections in the tri-media when the interest of the people is at its peak, which is during the campaign period.

The campaign period for national posts will start on February 9 while campaigning for local positions will commence on March 26. Both will end on May 8, 2010.

“We put our ads where they will be most felt. Where they will have the most impact and that’s during the campaign period,” Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said. “That’s just when interest is peaking. Right now interest although it seems like it’s very high, it’s not yet at its peak.”

Jimenez cited the current clutter in the airwaves as the reason why they chose to schedule their ads during the campaign period.

“This early in the game the airwaves are saturated by ads from various political players. It will be very difficult for us to go over the clutter at this time,” he said.

The clutter in the airwaves, he said, would also be very expensive for the poll body.

“We have to spend wisely. It’s not just a matter of pouring money into this project; it’s a matter of spending money wisely,” said Jimenez, citing that the poll body’s budget for voter education is only a little more than P100 million.

“As far as the ads are concerned we are trying our best to get more ad time for the money that we have. So we’ll probably ask groups like the KBP (Kapisanan ng mga Broadkaster sa Pilipinas) for help in getting the message across,” Jimenez said.

Although the Comelec is not undertaking a tri-media information campaign yet, the poll body however is already engaged in voters’ education, he said.

“We are educating the stakeholders, we are educating the academe… but again we are not that visible in the media. On the other hand, we are partners and we have provided technical assistance to other more visible campaigns such as dancers promoting voter education, such as public forums organized by various supporters that do gather public interest,” said Jimenez.

Original Story: http://mb.com.ph/articles/238190/mobile-phones-cameras-prohibited-precincts

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