Test case on campaign laws filed in CebuBy Doris C. Bongcac |Inquirer Visayas
CEBU CITY—A resident here sued two candidates for city councilor for illegally posting campaign materials on the fence of his truck yard in what could be considered a test case on the enforcement of election rules.
The complaint, filed by Dennis Maravillas, is the first of such nature to be filed in the Commission on Elections (Comelec), according to Temie Lambino, Comelec director for Western Visayas.
“A complaint for the illegal posting of campaign posters is no different from the violation of the election gun ban,” Lambino said.
“This is an election offense and is punishable by six months to one year in prison without any probation,” he said.
The Fair Elections Act prohibits the posting of campaign materials outside authorized common poster areas, in public places and in private property without the consent of the owner.
Maravillas wrote on April 8 to Marchel Sarno, Cebu City Comelec north district election officer, to complain that the campaign materials of candidates Alvin Arcilla and Jerry Guardo covered at least 70 percent of the fence of his truck yard on J. de Vera Street in Barangay Carreta.
Arcilla, an incumbent councilor seeking reelection, is with Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan, which is allied with the Liberal Party.
Guardo is also running for councilor in Cebu City but with the opposition, Team Rama, which is allied with the United Nationalist Alliance.
Attached to Maravillas’ complaint are pictures of the fence covered with posters of the two candidates.
Lawyer Edwin Cadungog, who replaced Sarno as north district election officer, sent notices to Arcilla and Guardo on April 10, directing them to remove the campaign materials on Maravillas’ fence.
Arcilla said he sent four men to Maravillas’ truck yard to remove his campaign materials after receiving the Comelec notice on April 11.
Lambino lauded Maravillas for complaining against the candidates.
“I’m encouraging every citizen, whether you intend to vote or not, to be watchful of violators,” said Lambino.
“If you see any violations, take pictures and write a letter to the Comelec,” he said.
Lambino said a letter of complaint was required.
“The filing of the complaint is just initial. The Comelec will take care of the rest of the process,” he said.
Violators, he said, will be issued notices by election officers and given three days to comply with the Comelec orders.
Failure to comply with the Comelec order would result in the filing of a complaint against the candidate.
The penalty for violating the law on campaign materials is six months to a year in jail and perpetual disqualification from public office.