Oplan Baklas removes illegal poll materials

FACE OF THE DEFIANT. Commission on Elections personnel remove posters of candidates outside the Cebu City Medical Center construction site on Panganiban St., Cebu City on April 8, 2019. They removed campaign materials outside the common poster areas allowed by the commission. (SunStar photo / Amper Campaña)

CAMPAIGN materials that were removed outside common poster areas in Cebu City filled four trucks deployed in the south district and three trucks deployed in the north district.

Acting South District Election Officer Marchel Sarno led the operation in the south, while North District Election Officer Chauncey Boholst led the operation in the north.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) launched the simultaneous operations on Monday, April 8, as part of Oplan Baklas.

Sarno said candidates of the Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan led by Mayor Tomas Osmeña, Councilor Mary Ann de los Santos and South District Rep. Bebot Abellanosa; and candidates of Barug-PDP-Laban led by Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella, his runningmate former Mayor Michael Rama, south district congressional candidate Councilor Joy Pesquera and north district congressional candidate Richard Yap had election materials outside common poster areas.

“It appears all candidates have posters outside the common poster areas,” Sarno said.

Osmeña and Labella are facing each other in next month’s mayoral race in Cebu City.

Sarno’s group went to Barangays Pasil and Duljo-Fatima and passed along N. Bacalso and V. Rama Avenues to remove prohibited campaign materials.

Boholst’s group started in Barangays Pahina Central before heading to Sambag 1 and Barrio Luz.

During the three-hour operation, they removed campaign materials belonging to party-list and senatorial candidates Mar Roxas, JV Ejercito, Ronald dela Rosa, Bong Go, Imee Marcos, Bong Revilla and Serge Osmeña, among others.

Sarno and Boholst instructed their personnel to get rid of the campaign materials so these wouldn’t be recycled by the candidates’ supporters.

Both groups were assisted by the Department of Public Works and Highways.

Posters glued to walls were painted white.

It was apparent that there were many violations of Republic Act (RA) 9006, or the Fair Elections Act, with the removal of so many illegal campaign materials, but Sarno said they couldn’t implement the law without public support.

He urged those who witnessed the posting of illegal campaign materials to file a case with the Comelec.

But he pointed out that not one person had reported a single violation.

According to the law, candidates cannot print campaign materials more than two feet by three feet unless they are independent. Then they can have campaign materials that are four feet by six feet.

Section 7F of Comelec Resolution 10488 also prohibits anyone “to post or display or exhibit any election campaign or propaganda material outside of common poster areas, in public places, or in private properties without the consent of the owner.”

Sarno called on politicians to be responsible in using their posters.

He said a candidate can be charged with violating RA 9006, although he admitted that proving it in court would be difficult.

Any person found guilty can be imprisoned for one to six years and disqualified from holding public office.

Comelec conducted a similar activity in Lapu-Lapu City.

Benjie Dayondon, the city’s election officer, said Lapu-Lapu has 26 common poster areas.

Meanwhile, Grace Magalzo-Bualat, a University of San Carlos faculty member, urged Comelec to strictly implement RA 9006.

“This is the only way to guarantee and ensure equal opportunity for public service. Cases must be filed against the violators. Just like vote buying and vote selling, people continue to violate these laws because nobody, despite blatant violations, has been prosecuted. I believe that candidates who cannot follow these very simple regulations do not deserve the people’s votes,” she said. (From PAC, GCM of SuperBalita Cebu, KAL)


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