NO EPAL Candidates welcome in ‘Araw’ but no campaigning

ELECTORAL OFFENSE? Police officers on bicycles pedal pass a billboard of a member of Davao City Council who is seeking for another term as City Councilor along Jacinto Extension, Davao City on Tuesday. The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has ordered the candidates to take down their posters and sent a reminder that early campaigning is an electoral offense. Lean Daval Jr

Election aspirants are welcome to celebrate with Dabawenyos in the upcoming 82nd Araw ng Dabaw on March 16. One simple rule the city government reminds: no election campaigning.

Davao City Tourism Operations Office (CTOO) head Generose Tecson said on Thursday that since this year’s festivities fall during the campaign period, officially starting on February 12 and ending May 11, they expect some candidates will take advantage of the exposure.

“They are welcome to join our celebrations, but they are not allowed to distribute their propaganda paraphernalia especially during the parade,” Tecson said during the iSpeak press conference at the City Hall of Davao.

Whether or not they will be allowed to deliver their speeches on stage, the tourism office said they will leave it up to the organizers.

The Commission on Elections (COMELEC), based on the Fair Elections Act, has not yet indicated any rules barring candidates to participate in events like festivals.

Araw ng Dabaw, a city-wide celebration commemorating the cityhood of Davao in 1937, is one of the biggest events in the city like Kadayawan sa Dabaw in August.

During last year’s Kadayawan festival, politicians Senator JV Ejercito and former Laguna governor ER Ejercito were spotted beside Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio during the Indak-Indak sa Kadalanan at San Pedro Street.

Also, during the Kadayawan week, the oath taking ceremony for the 3,000 new Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP) members took place at the SMX Convention Center.

Noted election aspirants present during the oath taking were Senators Sonny Angara, Cynthia Villar and Pia Cayetano.