CEBU City poll officials will start tearing down illegal campaign materials of national candidates today, when the campaign period for national positions officially begins.

Lawyer Marchel Sarno, election officer for the north district, said anyone can remove election materials that are outside the common poster areas, or those that do not follow the sizes prescribed in Republic Act 9006 or the Fair Elections Act.

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Poster areas

In Cebu City, common poster areas designated by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) are barangay halls, public markets and parks.

Posting of campaign materials in utility posts, fences, trees and other places outside the common poster areas is prohibited, Sarno said.

Candidates can place campaign materials in private buildings and houses, provided they have the consent of the owners.

Likewise, Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña yesterday warned politicians against indiscriminately posting their election paraphernalia.

Those who will not comply with the law, he said, are not worthy of the people’s vote.

The reminder, he said, extends to his fellow Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK) members.

Even before the start of the campaign period today, posters of candidates can be seen pasted on posts, walls, fences, and in many areas not considered poster areas.

They included those of local politicians, particularly BOPK candidates who are also incumbent officials as well as neophyte bets of the party.

Many posters greet the people during special occasions like Christmas, fiestas and the coming valentines.

While the materials do not directly ask the people to vote for the candidates, they help in making the people remember them.

The mayor said he will wait for the recommendation of the Comelec where the common poster areas in the city will be.

Sarno said candidates should follow the sizes of posters and banners and the frequency of TV and radio advertisements specified in the Fair Elections Act to avoid charges of election offense.

Violation of the law constitutes an election offense and is punishable with at least one year but not more than six years of imprisonment.

“In addition, the guilty party shall be sentenced to suffer disqualification to hold public office and deprivation of the right of suffrage,” the Omnibus Election Code says, which carries the penal provision of the Fair Elections Act.

As for local candidates campaigning with national candidates in their sorties, Sarno said no one can stop the local bets from going around since there is no longer any prohibition on early campaigning.

“There is no prohibition on early campaigning for local candidates so we cannot do anything if they campaign with the national candidates.

The campaign of the local bets will only be regulated once the campaign period for local candidates begins on March 26,” he said.

As stated in the Fair Elections Act, posters shall not exceed two feet by three feet, while banners shall not exceed three feet by eight feet.

Print advertisements shall not exceed one-fourth page in broadsheets and one-half page in tabloids, and can only be published three times a week per newspaper, magazines or other publications, and only during the campaign period.

The law also states that national candidates shall be entitled to not more than 120 minutes of television ads and 180 minutes of radio advertisement, whether by purchase or donation.

Each bonafide candidate for a local position is also entitled to not more than 60 minutes of TV advertisement and 90 minutes of radio ads. (LCR/RHM)