The Commission of Elections yesterday went after illegal campaign materials in Bacolod City, and the City Legal Office enforcement unit is set to implement “Oplan Baklas” today, to remove numerous illegal posters amid mounting complaints.
“We have a standing order for all election officers to remove illegal campaign materials from their areas,” Negros Occidental Election Supervisor Wil Arceño said yesterday.
Bacolod Election Officer Mavil Majarucon-Sia said she ordered the removal of oversized campaign materials of senatorial candidate Jack Enrile posted on a private property at Araneta Street, and these were voluntarily removed.
Enrile’s campaign posters measured 3 by 6 feet, in violation of the COMELEC rule of 2 by 3 feet, she said.
She said partylist group Abang Lingkod also willingly removed their posters on trees.
There are numerous other campaign materials of other partylist groups in the city that will also be removed, she said.
The COMELEC only has authority to go after illegal campaign materials of senatorial candidates and partylist groups for now, as the local campaign period will start on March 29, she said.
She said the COMELEC cannot act on the proliferation of oversized posters of local candidates yet, but the city government can remove them for being posted without permits.
Majarucon-Sia appealed to candidates for Bacolod councilor, who have posters bearing their pictures, names and their number in the ballot, to take them down. While these posters do not bear the word “vote” on them, which is not allowed before March 29, they obviously are campaign materials, she said.
Candidates or their representatives will be given three days to remove illegal campaign materials, and if they fail to do so, reports will be forwarded to the COMELEC law department for legal action, Majarucon-Sia said.
Cesar Beloria, who heads the CLO’s Oplan Baklas, said they will remove campaign materials posted outside common poster areas, and even those of local bets for lack of permits to post.
The city government has received numerous complaints about the proliferation of posters of candidates posted indiscriminately around the city, Beloria said.
The COMELEC will also conduct another Oplan Baklas in Bacolod City before the start of Holy Week, Majarucon-Sia said.
Meanwhile, she said she has been instructed by the COMELEC head office to attend the Supreme Court hearing of the “Team Patay/Team Buhay” case of the Diocese of Bacolod on March 19.*CPG