Former solon blasts Comelec's 'Oplan Baklas’ | Inquirer News

Former solon blasts Comelec’s ‘Oplan Baklas’

By: - Reporter / @zacariansINQ
/ 10:38 PM February 17, 2022

Operation baklas

From left to right: Comelec personnel remove campaign materials of the Leni Robredo-Kiko Pangilinan tandem posted at their volunteer headquarters in Quezon City. Billboard of Marcos-Duterte folded by authorities. (Screengrabs from Comelec.)

MANILA, Philippines — Former Bayan Muna lawmaker and senatorial candidate Neri Colmenares on Thursday said the Commission on Elections’ (Comelec) “Oplan Baklas” counters what election laws were created for.

Colmenares in a statement, said election laws exist to create an “equal playing field for all candidates.”


“The essence of these regulations allows the marginalized to participate in the most important democratic exercise in our country so that the people may elect deserving leaders,” said Colmenares.


“But Comelec’s recent Oplan Baklas runs counter to what our regulations ought to be. Instead of letting people express their support, Comelec has overreached through the takedown of campaign materials in private properties without due process,” he added.

The Comelec’s “Oplan Baklas,” which began on Feb. 16, was met with backlash after it led to authorities tearing down campaign materials displayed by non-candidates in their private properties without due process.

Even the The Supreme Court itself, said Colmenares, has ruled multiple times in past cases that the act of posting campaign materials with consent are covered under Freedom of Expression as citizens of the Republic.

“Due process is missing with the unilateral takedown of these campaign materials. Like any other judicial process, there should be room for explanations on whether such material should be taken down or not before forcing their baklas teams to enter private property, which can be considered trespassing,” said Colmenares.

“Oplan Baklas’ politically motivated

Meanwhile, in a separate statement, Anakpawis National accused the Comelec’s “Oplan Baklas” of being “politically motivated” as it allegedly targeted Robredo’s campaign materials while none from her major rivals have been reportedly taken down.

“Aside from being a violation of the people’s right to free elections, including freedom to support a candidate, the poll body is de facto violating its own election rules by using the police to strip off campaign materials targeting the camp of Presidential aspirant Vice President Leni Robredo,” said Anakpawis president Ariel Casilao.


It then reminded the Philippine National Police (PNP), which is part of Comelec’s enforcement cluster, that it should not engage in partisan politics.

“The police should be an independent organization that stays apolitical, more so, it should not use force to intimidate private citizens expressing support to a particular candidate,” it added.

On Thursday in the province of Isabela, officers were seen in a video removing campaign materials for Vice President Leni Robredo’s presidential bid even if they were inside a private property in Santiago City.

The PNP has since then released a statement assuring the public that police officers found liable for abuses while implementing Comelec’s “Oplan Baklas” will receive sanctions.

Evaluate, overhaul ‘out of tune’ regulations

Colmenares then urged the Comelec to review and overhaul its regulations which are “too stringent and out of tune.”

“Even monetary donations as small as P100 already require an affidavit of donation. That makes it harder for candidates like me or even VP Leni to receive help from ordinary people who have expressed support by giving all they have for their future is at stake,” said Colmenares.

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“If we are after honest and clean elections, the Comelec should review and overhaul its regulations, which put moneyed candidates at an advantage and disenfranchise people running grassroots campaigns,” he added.

TAGS: Comelec, Oplan Baklas

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