Comelec to Impose Power Over Hardheaded Candidates - BALITANG PINOY

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Thursday, February 21, 2019

Comelec to Impose Power Over Hardheaded Candidates

Manila--- The elections commissioner said on Wednesday that its now time for the hardheaded candidates to get a lesson for unlawful posting of campaign materials who were forcibly responsible for paying the costs of removal.

“We cannot just keep on removing these things. The candidates must learn a lesson,” Commissioner Rowena Guanzon told in an interview.

Guanzon said that the cost to be incurred by Comelec in removing illegal campaign posters was the candidates' responsibility to shoulder on.

She cited and called out senatorial candidate and former MMDA chairman Francis Tolentino for his illegal campaign billboard in Pasay City.

"I see that billboard every time I go to the airport and it bothers me that the candidate doesn’t think that we have the power to order that billboard removed,” she said. 

“It’s not a good thing when the candidates think that the Comelec is powerless against them.” she added.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is about to associate with the police and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority to help on the removal of illegal campaign materials.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) also welcomed the "Operation Baklas" together with the Office of the COMELEC for continuously conducting "Operation Baklas" to Unlawful Election Materials within the Area of Responsibility.

Inter-agency task force of different COMELEC associations paved its way to strategize the simultaneous "Oplan Baklas" of illegal campaign posters in the provinces. 

Guanzon said government-owned and controlled mass transport systems were likewise banned from having campaign materials.

She also wanted to scrutinize contracts of candidates among the owners of public transport buses.

"These expenses should be reflected in the candidates’ statements of contributions and expenses to be submitted to the Comelec after the May elections," she said further.

In line with this, COMELEC Education & Information Department prepared the set size limit of 2x3 feet in the allowed poster in such vehicles which was only intended on the side of the vehicle.

Guanzon, however released the lists of 40 senatorial candidates allegedly with illegal posters in Metro Manila namely Ferdinand  Aguilar, Ibrahim Albani, Gary Alejano, Richard Alfajora, Rafael III Alunan, Ernesto Arellano, Marcelino Arias, Bernard Austria, Edmundo Vicente Casino, Glenn Chong, Lorenzo Gadon, Conrado Generoso, Florin Hilbay, Leborio Jangao, Rodolfo Javellana, Manuel Lapid, Romulo Macalintal, Emily Mallillin, Faisal Mangondato, Zajid Mangudadatu, Jose Sonny Matula, Luther Meniano, Allan Montano, Danilo Roleda, Lorenzo Tañada III and Antonio Valdes.

Among them were also Juan Edgardo Angara, Paolo Benigno IV Aquino, Maria Lourdes Nancy Binay, Pilar Juliana Cayetano, Neri Colmenares, Jose Manuel Diokno, Joseph Ejercito, Jinggoy Estrada, Willie Ong, Sergio Osmeña III, Kiko Pimentel, Grace Poe, Francis Tolentino and Cynthia Villar.

The released list was criticized by Sen. Nancy Binay and senatorial candidate Magdalo Party-list Rep. Gary Alejano, who both claimed that they had no campaign posters yet at that time.

It has also been questioned for excluding President Rodrigo Duterte’s former assistant, Christopher "Bong" Go, and ex-police chief Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa, whose campaign billboards were much more noticeable than those of other candidates.

Guanzon, on the other hand addressed the listed candidates with illegal campaign billboards: “I’m asking them again to please remove the huge billboards because... it’s like telling the Comelec, ‘Who cares about your rules?’ That’s not good," she said.

With that, the commission and the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) wanted to engaged with the public to report candidates who are using government resources to advance their campaign for the midterm elections in May.

“Let us document everything and report these actions and behaviors,” Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said as well.

Jimenez mentioned the rule under the Omnibus Election Code, which prohibits any officer or employee in civil service, except those holding political offices, from intervening, directly or indirectly, in any election campaign or engaging in any partisan political activity.

Guanzon then, acknowledged that imposing the rules of the commission would be a “test” for both of them and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).

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