MANILA, Philippines—“In a world where regulation is required to have order, even Jesus would want His disciples to follow regulation.”
Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno stressed this maxim during the oral arguments on the validity of the Commission on Elections’ order to remove the “Team Patay” and “Team Buhay’’ tarpaulins in front of a church in Bacolod City.
During Tuesday’s oral arguments, the Diocese of Bacolod through counsel Ralph Sarmiento insisted that the Fair Elections Act should only cover candidates but is invalid when applied to petitioner (Diocese of Bacolod).
The Diocese of Bacolod went to the Supreme Court questioning the legality of the Comelec’s order to remove the “Team Patay,” “Team Buhay” tarpaulins in front of the San Sebastian Cathedral in Bacolod City.
“You are saying all private citizens can put up tarpaulins of all sizes,” Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio asked.
Another high court justice, Jose Perez, echoed Carpio’s view, saying by giving a new interpretation of the law, there is an attempt to get out of the prohibition.
“There can be no limitation, it is beyond the authority of the Comelec. Is that what you are saying?” Perez asked to which Sarmiento said “yes.” Perez said such interpretation causes absurdity.
Carpio, on the other hand, said the law did not limit penalty to candidates and political parties who violated limits with regards to posting of tarpaulins and other campaign paraphernalia.
“The law does not say violation of this act by candidates and political parties. This law is not limited to candidates. It applies to the public,” Carpio said.
Sarmiento said they do not see anything wrong with the listing of the names. He said the purpose of the tarpaulin is to “awaken the conscience of the people” and to inform the public of the church’s stand.
“The Diocese has made a caricature of the 7 individuals. Isn’t it un-Christian on the part of the Catholic Church,” Associate Justice Marvic Leonen.