Suspend ‘Oplan Baklas,’ election lawyer urges Comelec | Inquirer News

Suspend ‘Oplan Baklas,’ election lawyer urges Comelec

Veteran election lawyer Romulo Macalintal, photo for story: Suspend ‘Oplan Baklas,’ election lawyer urges Comelec

Veteran election lawyer Romulo Macalintal (Photo from Otso Diretso)

MANILA, Philippines — Veteran election lawyer Romulo Macalintal has formally asked the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to temporarily put on hold, pending a review, its enforcement of the regulations covering election materials, at least until the start of the campaign season for local candidates.

In a four-page letter dated Feb. 21, Macalintal called on Comelec to temporarily suspend certain provisions of Resolution No. 10730, or the implementing rules and regulations for Republic Act No. 9006, or the Fair Elections Act, until March 25 “in order to have a uniform policy for both national and local candidates.”


He questioned the Comelec’s interpretation of its resolution, which he said were being used by its poll officials to take down oversized campaign materials posted by noncandidates on private properties without notice or a hearing.


According to Macalintal, the suspension of “Oplan Baklas,” the poll body’s campaign against improper election paraphernalia, would give it “ample time to review its regulations and [also] be fully clarified in order to insure a uniform standard and policy for the campaign activities of national and local candidates when the campaign period for the latter starts on March 25, 2022.”

Earlier, the Comelec maintained that it had motu proprio powers to remove and dismantle unlawful election materials, including those posted on private property.

Macalintal, however, cited Timbol v. Comelec, which said that these powers could only be exercised by observing due process.

Campaign spending limits

“Thus, the need for the Comelec to amend this rule by making it clear that campaign materials inside a private property and owned by a noncandidate cannot be removed without notice and hearing,” he said.

Meanwhile, the poll watchdog, Legal Network for Truthful Elections (Lente), also urged the Comelec to revisit the legal framework on campaign finance “to make it more responsive” to the changing campaign environment.

The group observed that campaign spending limits were “easily circumvented,” giving undue advantage to candidates with more money.


Under RA 7166, those running for president and vice president are allowed to spend only up to P10 per voter while all other bets can spend just P3 to P5 per voter.

With around 67.4 million registered voters for the May 9 elections, the spending cap is around P674 million for presidential and vice presidential candidates and between P202 million and P337 million for the rest.

In reality, “seats are often won by those with financial superiority and by members of political dynasties who more often than not also enjoy financial superiority over the average Filipino citizens,” Lente pointed out.

“If the limits on campaign spending and ensuring equal opportunities for all candidates can be easily circumvented, it could result in candidates with more financial resources flooding voters with an almost unlimited amount of election paraphernalia,” it said.


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Advocacy materials safe from ‘Oplan Baklas,’ says Comelec exec

TAGS: #VotePH2022, Comelec, Oplan Baklas

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