Removal of campaign posters illegal PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 04 March 2016 13:54

KAKAMPI MO ANG BATAS

BY Atty. BATAS MAURICIO

 

LIFE’S INSPIRATIONS: “… The house of the wicked will be destroyed, but the tent of the upright will flourish…” (Proverbs 14:11, the Holy Bible).

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REMOVAL OF CAMPAIGN POSTERS ILLEGAL: I really cannot understand the removal by the Commission on Elections and by the Metro Manila Development Authority of posters and other election promotional materials belonging to candidates for local positions in the coming May 2016 elections. My view is that, such removal of posters is illegal and contravenes existing laws and decisions of the Supreme Court, and could even be a ground for corruption charges.

First, the posters and other election promotional materials do not violate any law. Under Republic Act 8436 and Republic Act 9369, it is clear that the putting up of posters and displaying of campaign materials promoting any candidate for any position in any place other than the so-called common poster areas, prior to the start of the official campaign period, is allowed.

Under these two laws, the prohibition against such posters and materials being displayed in areas other than the common poster areas applies only when the campaign period shall have officially started, pursuant to regulations promulgated by the Commission.

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WHEN DOES “PARTISAN POLITICAL ACTIVITY” START? This was the same ruling of the Supreme Court in the case of Rosalina Penera vs. Commission on Elections, G.R. No. 181613, November 25, 2009. In that case, the Supreme Court, through Justice Antonio T. Carpio, ruled that the laws in question do not consider as unlawful any partisan political act done before the campaign period.

The court said: “Congress has laid down the law a candidate is liable for election offenses only upon the start of the campaign period. This Court has no power to ignore the clear and express mandate of the law that any person who files his certificate of candidacy within [the filing] period shall only be considered a candidate at the start of the campaign period for which he filed his certificate of candidacy.

“Neither can this Court turn a blind eye to the express and clear language of the law that any unlawful act or omission applicable to a candidate shall take effect only upon the start of the campaign period,” it added.

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MMDA & POLL OFFICIALS LIABLE FOR GRAFT FOR POSTER REMOVAL: Now, if both the laws on election campaigning and the Supreme Court in its decision in the Penera case say that a partisan political act, such as the putting up of posters and campaign materials even in places that are not designated as common poster areas, could not be considered illegal, neither the Comelec nor the MMDA can provide otherwise.

As instrumentalities of government, the poll body and the MMDA are mandated not only to know the law and the applicable decisions of the Supreme Court, but to obey and execute them as well. They have no right to go against the law and the decisions of the high tribunal, for doing so would make them liable for graft and corruption.

So, does this mean the candidates running for local positions whose posters and campaign materials were torn down and hauled off by the MMDA and the Comelec can sue their officials who ordered such tearing down? My answer is yes. In fact, I am willing to go farther by saying that the affected candidates should try to file their cases now and provoke a ruling that could serve as guidelines in future elections.

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PLEASE WATCH OR LISTEN: “Tambalang Batas at Somintac”, a news-commentary radio program, aired at DZEC 1062 kHz and other Radyo Agila provincial stations, at http://www.eaglebroadcasting.net/radyoagila and at www.youtube.com (type DZEC Radyo Agila Tambalang Batas at Somintac 1062 Live), 6 to 7 in the morning, Philippine time. Phone: 0922 833 43 96, 0918 574 0193, 0977 805 9058. Email: batasmauricio@yahoo.com.