“No hitting below the belt. We should only declare our platforms so that our constituents can choose according to the plans we have for them,” agreed all the local candidates for the upcoming May elections in Tacurong City during the Candidates Briefing and Signing of Integrity Pledge hosted by the COMELEC on February 23, 2016 at Angel’s Food and Palomado Speech Complex in Tacurong City.

In attendance were the local electoral candidates this coming May 9, 2016 elections including the local Liberal Party (LP), headed by Incumbent City Mayor Lina O. Montilla, as accompanied by City Vice Mayor Joseph George Lechonsito and members; local Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) party, Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL) party, and other independent candidates.

Other stakeholders present during the briefing were PSSupt Emmanuel Peralta, OIC of SKPPD; PSupt Ranie Hachuela, Chief of Police of Tacurong City; Col. Cesar De Mesa, JTF-Talakudong Commander; and Mr. Alberto Sero, Tacurong City CILGOO among others.

Mr. Dindo Epino, City Election Officer of Tacurong City, briefed the participants on good election practices and other important provisions of the Election Code, Fair Elections Act, and other pertinent COMELEC resolutions. For instance, the candidates were briefed on the proper advertisement and election materials allowable under the election laws, the personalities or nationalities barred from participating in the campaign, and the lawful designated poster areas set by the COMELEC.

Atty. Michael Mamokid, Provincial Election Supervisor of Sultan Kudarat, provided awareness on the strict implementation of the Statement of Contributions and Expenditures (SOCE), and how non-compliance will be a ground for disqualification.

Articulating further on the SOCE, Mr. Samer Paporo, OIC Chief of the Assessment Section of BIR-Tacurong, briefed the candidates on the imposable withholding tax during elections, when it applies and when it is exempted. The use of correct BIR forms for SOCE purposes was also emphasized.

By the end of the program, the mayoralty and vice mayoralty candidates formally announced their commitment to a fair and honest elections. Together with the rest of the candidates present, they signed the Integrity Pledge in the presence of witnesses. (Yen Robles, Tacurong-LGU)