Comelec mulls charges vs Bacolod church-A A +A
Thursday, February 28, 2013
MANILA -- The Commission on Elections (Comelec) plans to press charges against officials of the San Sebastian Cathedral in Bacolod City for refusing to take down the oversized "Team Patay vs Team Buhay" poster.
Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes said the refusal of the owners to remove the poster might result in the filing of a case against them.
"When we say take it out, that is our findings. If they don't take it out, we will simply charge them," he added.
Brillantes said they have received a letter from the Diocese of Bacolod, saying it would not take down the poster until the poll body has established that the tarpaulins are campaign materials.
Earlier, lawyer Mitchelle Abella, of the Diocese of Bacolod, explained that the message in the tarpaulin was not an electoral campaign material but about the rejection of the reproductive health law.
However, Brillantes noted that if the materials promote or campaign against particular candidates, it can be considered as propaganda materials.
"If you are endorsing a product na nandun mukha ng candidate, that is propaganda under the definition of Supreme Court. Product endorsement has nothing to do with the elections and yet considered propaganda. Ito, nandyan ang mga kandidato. Team Patay. Team Buhay. That is an endorsement of candidates," he added.
Asked on who will be the respondents of the complaint in case they decide to push through with it, Brillantes said the commission is still studying its options.
"Kaya nga tinatanong namin sino ba ang may-ari ng mga simbahan? Sino nagpalagay nyan?" the Comelec chief added.
Brillantes said they cannot just ignore it because it involves a religious group.
"In the meantime, ayaw niyo tanggalin, we will charge you. Nakakahiya naman. Wala namang privileges just because you belong to the Catholic Church or what," he said.
The "Team Patay vs Team Buhay" tarpaulin placed outside the San Sebastian Cathedral in Bacolod City identifies senatorial candidates who are anti- and pro-Reproductive Health (RH) law.
The tarpaulin identified senatorial candidates Juan Edgardo Angara, Francis Escudero, Loren Legarda, Alan Peter Cayetano, Risa Hontiveros, Teddy Casiño, Jack Enrile and partylist groups Gabriela, Bayan Muna, Akbayan, and Anak Pawis as members of Team Patay.
On Team Buhay, included were Joseph Victor Ejercito-Estrada, Antonio Trillanes, Gregorio Honasan, Mitos Magsaysay, Koko Pimentel, and Cynthia Villar.
Section 17 of Comelec Resolution 9615 states that posting of campaign materials are allowed in private places "provided it has the consent of the owner."
The controversial tarpaulin was also said to be measuring six feet by 10 feet, which is over the size of the allowable measure of two feet by three feet.
Meanwhile, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) refused to comment on the matter, saying it is a local issue and should be resolved by the diocese.
"This is a local issue, hindi sa CBCP. Dapat ang magresolve nito local," said Msgr. Joselito Asis, CBCP secretary general.
Asked about the reported plan of other dioceses to come up with their own posters just like in the Diocese of Bacolod, he said it is the strategy of the bishops. (FP/Sunnex)