Disqualification hangs over ‘epals’

Comelec tells south Mindanao bets to shape up or be barred from polls

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10:08 PM February 16th, 2013

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February 16th, 2013 10:08 PM

DIGOS CITY—The Commission on Elections (Comelec) in southern Mindanao has ordered reelectionist politicians and other candidates to remove signs bearing their images and names from government projects or stickers displayed on vehicles or risk being disqualified.

Wilfredo Balisado, Comelec director for the region, which covers the three Davao provinces and Compostela Valley, said displaying candidates’ images and names before the start of the local campaign period is a blatant violation of election laws.

Balisado, who was here to brief candidates about the campaign period, said candidates have been sent letters reminding them of the rules on campaigning.

He said the start of the campaign period falls on a Good Friday so the start of the local campaign period would be Black Saturday.

Maria Febes Barlaan, also a ranking Comelec official in the region, said candidates who refuse to take down posters or signs will face disqualification procedures.

Barlaan said the Comelec wanted to level the playing field for candidates.

She said officials seeking reelection enjoy an advantage over new candidates because of their access to government resources.

This is the reason, she said, for the Comelec order for candidates to remove signs or posters bearing their names and images on government projects.

Efforts by the Inquirer to reach Gov. Douglas Cagas repeatedly failed amid criticisms that all infrastructure projects built or being put up under his administration bore his name or that of his wife, Mercedes, and son, Rep. Marc Douglas.

Even vehicles, including ambulances, that he and his congressman-son had distributed to village officials for official functions bore the Cagas family name.

Balisado said vigilance among voters would help the Comelec, which does not have enough manpower, to monitor violations by politicians of campaign rules.

He said voters can report violations by politicians through several means, including the poll body’s Twitter account (@Comelec), its Facebook page (www.facebook.com/PCOSDemo2013) or by using the feedback form on the website #SumbongKo sa Comelec (www.mycomelec.tv) and the poll body’s hotlines, (02) 5275574, 5259345 and 5259302. Orlando B. Dinoy, Inquirer Mindanao

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