‘Epal’ bets face troops in Pangasinan

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DAGUPAN CITY—Angered by local candidates’ disrespect, the Commission on Elections provincial office here on Tuesday vowed to exact vengeance by removing all illegal campaign materials that are blanketing the city and calling in the military to enforce election rules.

Lawyer Marino Salas, provincial election supervisor, said violations of the Fair Elections Act had become so blatant, with all posters and billboards hanging outside authorized common poster areas here.

“We now have orders. This will be a massive operation. We just don’t want to spoil the Bangus Festival celebration,” said Salas on Tuesday.

This city is celebrating the Bangus Festival until May 3. The event’s highlight, the Bangusan street party, was held on Tuesday.

“We don’t care who will get angry at us. We will just do our job. Please, just wait,” said Salas.

Heated rivalry

The mayoral race here is an intense contest between reelectionist Mayor Benjamin Lim, who is running under the Nacionalista Party, and Vice Mayor Belen Fernandez, a Liberal Party candidate.

This city belongs to Pangasinan’s fourth district, where reelectionist Rep. Gina de Venecia, a Nationalist People’s Coalition candidate, is virtually running unopposed because her opponent, Celia Lim, the mayor’s wife, has not been campaigning.

Salas said that three times in the past two months, he had led the police in dismantling illegal posters and billboards around the city.

But he said that for every one illegal poster that they remove, five posters would eventually replace it.

Under the law, posting or displaying any election campaign material outside authorized common poster areas, in public places, or in private property without the consent of the owner, is illegal.

He said he had sent notices to candidates to ask them to remove their illegal campaign posters.

 

Disrespect

“As much as possible, we don’t want to be drastic but they (local candidates) seem to be telling us right in our faces that we are inutile. This is already disrespect,” Salas said

In other parts of Pangasinan, he said local candidates have been following the law.

This city is among the 14 towns and cities in Pangasinan which have been tagged as “areas of concern.”

Salas said initially, one of the two tanks that the Army had sent to the province was supposed to be stationed in this city but he said he recalled it.

“But if that is what they are doing to us, we will deploy the tank and the Army in Dagupan,” said Salas, who chairs the province’s Joint Security Coordinating Center.

He said soldiers are in the city to help secure the Bangus Festival celebration.

“But because of these violations, we received an order to deploy more [soldiers] here and I’m just waiting for the arrival of five more platoons, more than 100 soldiers. Most of them will be in Dagupan,” he said. Gabriel Cardinoza, Inquirer Northern Luzon

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  • Roland

    Just fine the politicos who have posters, one vote subtracted per poster found illegally posted. Take a picture of the posters and have the geolocation tag in the picture as proof of the location. No more than 100 votes per 100 meters to be subtracted just in case the enemy of the politician wants to sabotage each other by blanketing a neighborhood with his rival’s posters. The politician will be given 10 days to remove the posters or else will be fined the votes. He can submit photo proofs as compliance and if he has not complied, on the 10th day he will be given a one hour hearing to prove otherwise. If he still does not comply, then he will be charged 1 vote for every poster.

    Just to minimize the potential abuse (by a rival politician), up to a max of 1% of the precint population can be the maximum deducted votes. So if it’s a mayoral position with 100,000 voters, then only up to 1,000 votes can be use to penalize the politico. This may not be much, but in a close race, it may be spell the difference between winning and losing. The politician has up to the 5th day before the election to clear up any problems until it becomes official that he will be deducted the votes.

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