SC asked to stop ‘Oplan Baklas’ on private property | Inquirer News
Campaign materials posted by noncandidates

SC asked to stop ‘Oplan Baklas’ on private property

/ 05:50 AM March 02, 2022

MMDA workers with taken down campaign materials, FOR STORY: SC asked to stop ‘Oplan Baklas’ on private property

HAUL | Workers of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority prepare to haul a pile of campaign materials taken down along the stretch of Espana Boulevard in Manila on Feb. 18, 2022, as Comelec starts “Oplan Baklas.” (MARIANNE BERMUDEZ / PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER)

ILOILO CITY, Iloilo, Philippines — A Catholic Church-run school in Capiz province and two volunteer groups backing the presidential bid of Vice President Leni Robredo asked the Supreme Court on Tuesday to stop the Commission on Elections (Comelec) from taking down campaign materials posted by non-candidates on private property.

In a 52-page urgent petition for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus, the petitioners also sought a temporary restraining order to bar the poll body from implementing Comelec Resolution No. 10730, particularly the provisions on the removal, dismantling, destruction and confiscation of prohibited election materials, on those funded by private individuals and posted or installed within privately-owned property.


They asked the high tribunal to order the poll body to “return and/or restore all tarpaulins, posters, billboard, murals, and other election materials dismantled, removed, defaced and/or confiscated pursuant to ‘Oplan Baklas’.”


The Supreme Court was also urged to declare as unconstitutional the Comelec’s acts in interpreting and implementing the pertinent provisions of its resolution.

The petitioners included St. Anthony College (SAC) of Roxas City, Inc. represented by Sr. Geraldine Denoga; Dr. Pilita de Jesus Liceralde, a convener of Isabela for Leni; and Dr. Anton Mari Hao Lim, a convener of Zamboangeños for Leni.

They argued that the Comelec resolution, which the poll body cited in implementing its campaign against unlawful election paraphernalia only covered propaganda materials of candidates, political parties and party list organizations.

“(N)owhere in the Fair Election Act is it provided that campaign materials by private citizens [will] also be covered by the size requirements imposed upon candidates and political parties in general,” the group said.

“Petitioners produced their own materials as part of their constitutionally guaranteed right to freedom of expression,” they added.

On Feb. 17, the Comelec started a nationwide campaign to take down oversized posters and those posted outside designated common poster areas.


In Isabela, an election official painted over the mural of Robredo and her running mate, Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, while being guarded by heavily-armed policemen.

The mural was on a wall of a privately-owned compound along the main highway in Echague town.

In challenging the Comelec’s action, the petitioners said the election officials “exceeded their authority” and flouted their right in “voicing out their political opinions and advocacies.”

They also cited the high tribunal’s landmark ruling in Diocese of Bacolod v. Comelec, which declared that “there are no existing bright lines to categorize speech as election-related and those that are not.”

“This honorable court held that free speech and other intellectual freedoms are highly ranked in our scheme of constitutional values and enjoy precedence and primacy,” the petitioners said.

“To restrict the voters’ use of their property in expressing their political opinions will counter the Comelec’s objective to level the playing field and to minimize campaign spending,” they added.

Ten lawyers in Capiz province earlier defended the SAC after the Comelec in Roxas City ordered the school to remove a tarpaulin of Robredo from one of its buildings.



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TAGS: #VotePH2022, Comelec, Oplan Baklas, Supreme Court

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