MANILA, Philippines—Commission on Elections Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. on Wednesday warned that party-list groups caught violating rules on illegal election posters during the campaign period could face cancellation of their registration.
A day after the start of the campaign period for national positions, the Comelec went around Manila City with some members of the media to check the compliance of candidates and party-list groups with the election body’s “common poster area” rule.
An inspection around the city showed several campaign banners pasted on plant boxes and on the columns of the Light Rail Transit along Taft Avenue and hung on electric posts on Quirino Highway while designated common poster areas, which included Plaza Dilao in Paco, remained bare.
Most of the illegally placed posters belonged to party-list groups Anakpawis, Kabataan, Buhay, AkapBata and Gabriela. Banners bearing the face of Team PNoy’s senatorial bet Aurora Rep. Sonny Angara were also seen hanging from electric posts along Quirino Highway.
“Comelec is ready to launch a new wave of cancellation of party-list groups, despite printing of ballots, if prompted by their illegal posters,” said Brillantes.
The Comelec chairman said these organizations “should be careful,” stressing that violation of campaign rules was not only an election offense but a ground for cancellation of their registration as party-list groups under Republic Act 7941.
The law provides that the Comelec may cancel registration of a party-list group if it “violates or fails to comply with laws, rules or regulations relating to elections.”
“What we are looking at now is compliance among individual candidates and party-list organizations. In fact, you will see that three out of one are from party-list groups,” Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez, who also oversees monitoring of election propaganda, told reporters in an interview.
Jimenez led Wednesday’s surprise inspection on Manila City’s main thoroughfares and at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, where his team also spotted streamers of Kabataan party-list mounted in one of the walls of the school.
The team inspected PUP following reports received from concerned citizens of illegal posters inside the campus, according to Jimenez.
“We will notify the school that they have these kind of materials mounted inside the campus. We will remind them what our rules and regulations are,” he said on the sidelines of the inspection.
He pointed out that mounting of election propaganda are prohibited in schools as they are considered public places.
Under Comelec Resolution No. 9615, it is prohibited to mount or display election propaganda materials in public places and outside the designated common poster areas.
It also prohibits campaign posters in main streets, bridges, center islands of roads and highways, waiting sheds, lamp and electric posts and wires and traffic signboards erected on public property.
But Jimenez was quick to add that the school won’t be held liable for the illegally placed campaign ads and ultimately, the candidate or party-list organization appearing in the banner will be held responsible.
“Again, this does not constitute automatic disqualification on the part of these candidates or groups,” Jimenez stressed. He said these candidates and party-list organizations will be given a three-day notice to take down their illegal posters.
“Potentially, they are violations but we are also considering that it’s just the start of the campaign period and as we go along, we expect intense compliance among candidates and party-list groups,” he said.