SC stops Comelec order to remove ‘Team Patay’ tarpaulins in Bacolod
MANILA, Philippines—The Supreme Court stopped the Commission on Elections (Comelec) from implementing its order to remove the Team Buhay and Team Patay tarpaulins placed in front of the San Sebastian Cathedral in Bacolod City.
Aside from the temporary restraining order, the high court also ordered an oral argument on the matter on March 19 in Manila. Comelec was also given 10 days to comment on the petition filed by the Diocese of Bacolod and Bacolod Bishop Vicente Navarra.
The urgent petition was filed seeking to declare as unconstitutional the Comelec’s order maintaining that it infringes on their right to freedom of expression and violated the principle of separation of Church and State.
“[The] petitioners’ position against the RH law is not only a matter of exercise of its freedom of expression and of conscience but is also a matter of Catholic faith, morals, belief and of duty,” petitioners said.
The case stemmed after the Comelec issued a notice asking the petitioners to remove the tarpaulins for violating the Comelec regulation on campaign materials in private properties.
After the church refused to comply, Comelec legal department director Esmeralda Amora-Ladra issued a warning that if the tarpaulins will not be removed, they will be charged with an election offense.