Comelec asked to probe Iloilo City police for poll violations
ILOILO CITY -— Party list groups have asked the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to investigate the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) for alleged violation of election laws after it posted on its official Facebook page a fake report that the party list groups were disqualified in the May 13 elections.
In a complaint addressed to lawyer Jose Nick Mendros, Western Visayas Comelec director, the Makabayan coalition also decried a separate post in the Facebook page Pulis ICPO Serbisyo Publiko, calling on voters not to support the party list groups affiliated with the coalition.
Makabayan is a coalition of 12 militant party list groups, including Bayan Muna, Gabriela, ACT-Teachers, and Kabataan.
“We urge the Comelec to immediately order the Iloilo City Police Office to take down this malicious Facebook posts, aimed at campaigning against the above mentioned Makabayan party list candidates, which is a blatant violation of the Omnibus Election Code …,” according to the complaint signed by Siegfred Deduro, Makabayan vice president for Visayas.
The law prohibits public officers and employees including members of the Armed Forces and Philippine National Police from “directly or indirectly” intervening “in any election campaign or engages in any partisan political activity, except to vote or to preserve public order…”
The Facebook page administered by the ICPO’s Police Community Relations unit reposted from the Facebook page of Diego Pagbabago a report claiming that the Comelec had disqualified Bayan Muna, Anakpawis, ACT-Teachers, and Gabriela.
It also erroneously included the youth group Anakbayan which is not a party list group.
The groups were disqualified because “it was proven that they were actively involved in efforts to overthrow the government,” according to the post.
The post was taken down around 5:15 p.m. on May 12 after it drew comments accusing the page of spreading “fake news.”
Another post shared from the page Pinoy Redwatch called on voters not to vote for the party list groups linking them to the New People’s Army, Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and CPP founding chair Jose Maria Sison.
The post has also been taken down.
Police Col. Martin Defensor, ICPO, police chief, said the administrators did not ask for his permission on the reposts.
“The usual procedure is that they inform me (on what they will be posting). If it is not true, then we have to take it down,” Defensor told the INQUIRER.
He did not confirm when asked if the ICPO would be conducting an investigation.
“The (Facebook) page is for information dissemination and to improve our image. If it is meant to discredit any group, I won’t allow that,” he said.
“We are probably victims of “kuryente (bum steer)” and (our personnel) may have been very eager to post because one of our focus is to prevent communist groups in taking over our government,” he said.
But Deduro said the posts were “blatantly malicious” and put members and supporters of the party list groups in danger.
“It is outrageous that the Philippine National Police itself is spreading this information which at the very least is electioneering and a violation of the law that they were supposed to enforce,” Deduro said in an earlier interview. (Editor: Leti Z. Boniol)
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