By: Saul Pa-a
CALAMBA CITY, Laguna — A truckload of illegal campaign advertisements, tarpaulins, and posters were hauled in Tuesday’s simultaneous removal operation in this city, with the materials mostly breaching the Commission on Elections (Comelec) prescribed sizes and placed out of the common-poster areas.
Lawyer Gloria Petallo, Comelec 4A (Calabarzon) Regional Election Director said this is their fifth massive “baklas” (removal) operation held across Calabarzon region comprised of the provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon. Local election offices have been monitoring these poll offenses in the run-up to the May 13 midterm polls.
Petallo said the removed illegal campaign materials would serve as evidence against candidates or their supporters for breaching the election laws, but these cases have to undergo due process.
She said even incumbent local reelectionist candidates and elected barangay officials who are proven to have committed consented or abetted with such illegal acts are liable for any infringement of the law.
She also reminded that elected barangay officials have to be non-partisan and are mandated to enforce laws and ordinances of local and national application in their respective jurisdictions.
“Pwede silang kasuhan kung proven after due process. May Local Government Code po na dapat sila (They could be charged if proven after due process. We have the Local Government Code where they) have the mandate to enforce peace and order including environmental laws in their jurisdiction,” Petallo said.
In another interview, Comelec-Calamba City election assistant Enrique Peña said they have been notifying local candidates of these infractions, and even advised them to also inform their supporters and party mates to heed the notices.
“Nag-advise na po kami sa kanila at mga supporters pero yung mga supporters po talaga ang medyo mahirap pakiusapan kasi alam na naman po ng mga candidates na bawal sa mga puno, poste ng kuryente, school building, at ibang mga government buildings (we have already advised them and their supporters, but the supporters are really difficult to convince because the candidates are aware of the prohibitions (on posting the campaign ads) on trees, electric posts, school buildings, and other government buildings),” he said.
Peña, along with 40 members of the Police Regional Office (PRO4) Calabarzon headquarters and the city’s Public Order and Safety Office (POSO), Engineering Services Office, and General Services Office team, conducted the removal operation along the stretch of the Mayapa-Canlubang interchange to the commercial district fronting the Camp Gen. Vicente Lim here. (PNA)