THE transformers, a man in orange promising to solve poverty, a Mani-leño proclaiming his being “bisdak” (full-blooded Cebuano), a senator espousing environmental care and a street parliamentarian-turned-legislator, were among the faces that greeted Cebuanos.
They were just a few of the hopefuls whose smiling faces were found on posters yesterday morning, the start of the campaign period for national candidates.
There is really nothing wrong with politicians grinning at you on their posters, only that their campaign materials are not in the proper places.
Pasted on posts and trees and even fences, the posters are violations of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) guideline on common poster areas.
Comelec 7 Director Rey Rene Buac appealed to all “concerned citizens” to not just report or complain but testify against those caught pasting those posters.
He said the Comelec could not prosecute violators if there are no witnesses, as the mere posting of the campaign materials is not ground enough to establish liability of the candidate.
He said that if a person is caught placing posters in the wrong areas, they could confess whether or not the candidates gave them the instructions to do so.
He said citizens can show they are really concerned by not merely giving tips or complaining but also testifying about what they saw.
“That’s the best proof that he is really concerned…. We can spare nobody just to look around and keep watch always. We need concerned citizens who not only report but who would stand and testify on what they saw. Witnesses are needed to submit affidavits and we will take cognizance of it,” Buac said.
“The next best thing we can do is to remove the posters. We could not really say it is their posters. It could just be that overzealous supporters who are the ones violating. We need somebody who can testify and say that the candidate gave the orders for them to violate the law,” he added.
He also urged bara-ngay officials and employees, as deputized agents of the Comelec, to establish a tight watch against those who illegally place posters.
Atty. Marchel Sarno, north district election officer, said they are forming a team that will tear down the posters, but said their priority right now is voters’ education on the automated elections.
Atty. Edwin Cadungog, south district elections officer, on the other hand, said they will attend barangay general assemblies and urge officials and residents to help watch against illegally-placed posters.
“We need the help of local government units and the barangays in removing and monitoring illegal posters, those that are not in the designated Comelec common poster areas,” he said.
But officers of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Cebu City chapter yesterday called the attention of Cebu City poll officials on numerous illegal campaign materials placed outside common poster areas.
Sarno said IBP Cebu city chapter president Michael Yu sent him text messages informing him of the posters and banners of national candidates hanging from utility wires, violating the provisions of the Fair Elections Act.
Sarno said they will remove them in the days to come, but he asked for understanding from the public if Comelec cannot remove everything at once due to lack of manpower.
In Talisay City, the local poll body did not receive any complaints about illegally posted campaign materials.
But City Election Officer Corazon Moran assured that her office would appropriately act if it receives formal complaints on the matter.
She noticed in previous elections that some complaints stemmed from rivalries of candidates.
But radio reports said that some posters of national candidates, including a presidential aspirant, were improperly posted along the major thoroughfares in Talisay City.
In Mandaue City, Assistant Election Officer Jacqueline Reuyan said there were so far no violations committed yesterday.
Reuyan said the common poster areas in the city are the 27 barangay halls, the National Telecommunication Commission compound in Barangay Subangdaku, the
Rizal-Bonifacio stage at the corner of Catalino Ouano and SB Cabahug; the vacant lots near Jagobiao National High School and the nursery in Barangay Ibabao-Estancia. (With LCR/GC/OCP)