Comelec-7 gives parties 3 days to remove illegal campaign materials
Cebu City (11 February) -- 'Three days,' is the ultimatum given by the Commission on Elections (Comelec-7) to the various political parties to remove their campaign posters and materials from electric posts and trees in Cebu which is a violation of the Fair Elections Act as the campaign period for national elective posts officially began early this week.
Cebu Provincial Election Supervisor Atty. Lionel Marco Castillano said in spite of their continuing advocacy to put up campaign materials only in common designated poster areas frequented by the public including plazas, markets, and barangay centers or halls, many candidates and their supporters still continue to violate by putting up campaign streamers or posters in electric posts and trees.
"And to think many claim they are environmentalists," quipped Castillano.
Apart from electric posts and trees, prohibited public places include streets, bridges, buildings, wires, schools, shrines and main thoroughfares, according to the Comelec-7. Under Section 29 of Comelec Resolution No. 8758 in the implementing rules and regulations of the Fair Elections Act stipulates that "All materials and advertisements showing the picture, image or name of the person made or done in violation of election laws prior to campaign period shall be immediately removed by said candidate within three days after the effectivity of this rules and the start of campaign period.
Castillano also said that candidates must also follow the prescribed size of campaign poster which should be 2 x 3 feet and banners should not exceed 3 x 8 feet.
Campaign paraphernalia that are posted in private buildings or residences are allowed as long as the concerned party has obtained the consent of the owner, according to Castillano.
"Owners of private buildings and houses that have been pasted with campaign materials without their consent have the right to tear down or remove these election materials," Castillano stressed.
Those found guilty of illegal posting of campaign materials is punishable with at least one year but not more than six years of imprisonment and in addition, the guilty party can face perpetual disqualification from public office, this is said.
Castillano however, disclosed that there was only one case in Cebu on illegal posting of campaign materials that was filed in court in the 2007 elections and until now, the case has yet to be resolved.
The provincial election supervisor said election offenses under the Omnibus Election Code are not treated as ordinary crimes and that resolution of any case takes quite long. "We should not hamper their right to campaign because this might be subject to abuse by the Comelec," according to Castillano.
Castillano admitted that they lack the manpower to remove campaign paraphernalia from non-designated poster areas as he welcomed any assistance from volunteers.
But the provincial election supervisor said he would request security from the police when they start to tear down or remove campaign materials from illegal areas because based on previous experience, conflict ensued between the Comelec and supporters of candidates.
Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeņa meanwhile, warned candidates not to indiscriminately post their campaign materials in non-designated areas as he issued the same warning to his fellow Bando Osmeņa Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK) members.
Those who do not comply with the law are not worthy of the people's vote, Osmeņa declared.
The election campaign period for the local level will start on March 26 while both national and local campaign period will end on May 8. (PIA-Cebu/FCR) [top]