Vice-presidential candidate Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan took the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and Philippine National Police (PNP) to task for its impartiality in dismantling the campaign materials of national candidates for the 2022 polls.
Pangilinan, running mate of Vice President Leni Robredo, called on both the Comelec and the PNP to prove their impartiality by going after the posters and tarpaulins of administration bets, too.
“Iligal ang ginagawa ng Comelec. Ang balita natin ang binabaklas lang ay iyong mga wala sa administrasyon kaya hindi tama. Ang panawagan natin sa Comelec at PNP, patunayan niyo na patas kayo at impartial kayo (What the Comelec is doing is illegal. The report to us is they only dismantle the ones not from the administration. Our call to Comelec and PNP is to prove you’re fair and impartial),” Pangilinan said during an interview on Saturday, Feb. 19, with Love Radio-Dagupan.
Earlier this week, Comelec started its “Operation Baklas” across the country to remove campaign paraphernalia in non-designated areas.
Accompanied by policemen, Comelec personnel also removed materials not following the sizes set by the poll body.
However, Robredo’s supporters particularly decry the removal of her posters and tarpaulins from private properties.
Based on reports, Comelec and PNP removed posters and defaced murals inside private properties, drawing the ire of volunteers groups and individuals.
A lawyer, Pangilinan argued that the poll body and the police overstepped the bounds of law, saying they do not have any authority on private properties to remove campaign materials “without due process or hearing.”
“Tulad na lang dito sa Isabela, private property at pader ng may-ari, may mural na pinaghirapan ng mga kabataan at ang ginawa ay binura. Hindi iyon allowed at hindi iyon ligal (Like the one in Isabela, it’s a private property and the wall painted by the youth with mural was erased. That’s not allowed and legal),” he added.
Volunteers of the Leni-Kiko campaign in different localities such as Isabela and Zamboanga denounced Comelec’s removal of campaign materials put up inside private properties—all of which, they claimed, without prior notice.
But the poll body denied this, saying that its officials asked permission before entering private properties during the “Operation Baklas.”
Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said the poll body needs to regulate election propaganda materials to “level the playing field.”
He earlier told critics of the poll body’s removal of oversized campaign posters and those displayed in non-common poster areas to file a complaint if they have a problem with it.