Palace on 'Oplan Baklas': 'We respect Comelec's independence'

Malacañang has declined from commenting on the Commission on Elections' (Comelec) controversial "Oplan Baklas," adding that it "respects the independence" of the poll body.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) removes unlawful election materials during the launch of the “Operation Baklas” in Metro Manila on Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022. (MARK BALMORES/MANILA BULLETIN)

"Comelec, we have to understand, is an independent constitutional body and we have to respect the independence of Comelec, especially so because it is election period now," Cabinet secretary and acting presidential spokesperson Karlo Nograles said in a Palace briefing on Friday, Feb. 18.

The Comelec is under fire for allegedly abusing its power when it launched "Oplan Baklas" – an initiative of the poll body to take down unlawful campaign posters that are either oversized or posted in restricted areas.

However, some groups started to call out the Comelec following reports that authorities dismantled posters installed on private property.

Comelec Spokesperson James Jimenez already took a stand on the matter, adding that it will continue to implement it despite criticisms from various groups.

He also recommended critics of the "Oplan Baklas" to file a complaint if they have a problem with it, which was echoed by Nograles.

"Iyong mayroon pong mga grievances, mayroon po silang mga (Those who have grievances, they have) legal recourse that they can also explore but as far as we are concerned, we must respect the independence of Comelec," Nograles noted.

Nograles further reiterated that all guidelines regarding election-related activities are under the jurisdiction of Comelec based on its constitutional mandate.