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Comelec ‘not authorized’ to remove poll posters

Comelec ‘not authorized’ to remove poll posters

Odessa O. Leyson (The Freeman) – February 5, 2019 – 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — Campaign materials posted all over Cebu City ahead of the official start of the campaign period will only be removed by the poll body next month.

Laywer Marchel Sarno, Commission on Elections-Cebu City North District election officer, said they are only authorized to remove illegally posted campaign materials during the campaign period.

This was in response to the appeal of Cebu City Councilors Joel Garganera and Raymond Alvin Garcia to remove campaign materials posted on street and traffic posts in the city.

The campaign period for congressmen and local candidates will kick off on March 29 and will end on May 11. This excludes the first day or on the 29th which falls on the Good Friday.

The midterm elections are set on May 13.

In the meantime, Sarno said the local government unit (LGU) can initiate the removal of the posters.

“The LGU has the power to remove election posters,” he said.

The omnipresent posters and activities of politicians and personalities are widely perceived as premature campaigning.

But Sarno said the campaign materials posted ahead of the election campaign are not an election offense.

Under existing law, he said, any person who files his certificate of candidacy shall only be considered a candidate at the start of the campaign period.

In a Philippine Star report published on July 13, 2018, Supreme Court Spokesman Theodore Te said premature campaigning is allowed under the automated election law, saying there is a high court decision that removed premature campaign as an election offense.

He cited the 2009 SC ruling on the disqualification case of then mayor Rosalinda Penera of Sta. Monica, Surigao del Norte town that changed the rule on premature campaign, which used to be an election offense under the manual election system.

The Automated Election Law or Republic Act 8436 as amended by RA 9369 effectively removed the rule on premature campaigning and allowed candidates to campaign ahead of the prescribed period under the Omnibus Election Code.

Under the SC ruling, infomercials and other advertisements of politicians joining the elections are considered as “exercise of freedom of expression” by candidates. (FREEMAN)


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