‘Illegal’ campaign materials torn down by MMDA fill up 10 trucks
MANILA, Philippines — With just a week after the start of the local campaigns for the upcoming May polls, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) has already confiscated 93 cubic meters or 10 truckloads of illegally posted campaign materials in various areas in Metro Manila. This volume is almost half of the agency’s total collection, which started two months ago.
Rod Tuazon, head of the MMDA’s Sidewalk Clearing Operations Group, said that from Feb 9 to March 27, the agency was only able to collect 113.47 cubic meters or 18 truckloads of illegal campaign materials.
The MMDA earlier said that they were expecting an increase in their collections of illegal campaign materials during the start of the local election campaign because more candidates would be allowed to distribute flyers and put up posters.
The “Oplan Baklas” campaign started last February 9 and will be done until election day (May 9.) It aims to dismantle campaign posters and materials, which are placed outside the designated areas of the Commission on Elections (Comelec.)
Tuazon said that because of Oplan Baklas, political groups have become hesitant to place campaign materials on restricted places and areas.
“They are hesitant because they know that it will cost them too much. Once they put their campaign materials in the illegal zone, it will be removed by the MMDA eventually,” Tuazon said.
He, however, said that the MMDA has not been granted the authority to arrest erring violators of the Comelec’s rule.
“We asked that one to the Comelec. We are only augmented by the police forces to hasten the process of Oplan Baklas,” Tuazon added.
MMDA Chair Emerson Carlos said that only the Comelec could make violators liable for posting materials on illegal zones.
The agency added that it would continue confiscating illegal campaign materials, this time along the stretch of Edsa from Pasay to Caloocan.
“The two Oplan Baklas teams will confiscate illegal campaign materials every day, from morning until afternoon,” Tuazon added.
Each team is composed of 30 personnel equipped with a dump truck, adjustable ladder, and a man lifter to clear posters and tarpaulins posted on electric posts, traffic signs, and even trees.
The MMDA clearing teams are escorted by personnel from the Comelec and the Philippine National Police for their safety.
The agency earlier donated a ton of confiscated tarpaulins to environment group, EcoWaste Coalition and Church-based group Babuyan Islands Missions, which recycled the materials into bags, school supplies and other useful items. (With a report from John Cyril Yee, trainee) SFM
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