Case vs Bacolod diocese to be filed this week-A A +A
Sunday, March 3, 2013
THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) is expected to file anytime this week a case against the Diocese of Bacolod for its refusal to take down an oversized tarpaulin bearing names of senatorial candidates who should be voted and not for their position on the reproductive health law.
“We will commence the proceedings next (this) week for the filing of election offense cases to whoever is behind this, unless restrained by SC (Supreme Court),” said Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes on his Twitter account (@ChairBrillantes) Saturday night.
Last week, the Bacolod diocese asked the SC to restrain the poll body from removing its “Team Buhay/Team Patay” poster hanging outside the San Sebastian Cathedral in Bacolod.
“We maintain, however, that the Team Buhay/Patay tarpaulin is an ‘election propaganda’ and, thus, covered by the size restriction imposed by law. I maintain that election laws, including those governing campaigning, apply to all citizens regardless of faith or persuasion, even the Church,” said Brillantes.
The Diocese has been defying the Comelec order, saying they have not committed any offense.
The Church's position was backed by election lawyer and anti-RH advocate Romulo Macalintal.
Macalintal said the cathedral is a private property owned by the Church and that the law does not dictate the size of election propaganda that could be displayed there.
He added the concerned tarpaulin is not an election propaganda but rather an expression of the Church’s continuing position against the RH law.
“It is covered by the constitutional guarantee on freedom of expression and religion,” he said.
Macalintal, however, said the diocese should have first exhausted all available legal remedies such as writing the Comelec law department or the commission en banc before it went up to the SC.
“Under the Constitution and existing jurisprudence, the Supreme Court’s power to review Comelec cases is limited to decisions or orders or ruling of the Comelec en banc. The court does not even have power to review decisions of a Division of the Comelec, more so, any order of a mere department of the poll body,” he said. (HDT/Sunnex)