Dumaguete election officer-designate, Andre Villasis, said yesterday that illegal campaign materials confiscated by the Commission on Elections may be utilized as evidence for the disqualification of a candidate or candidates in the May 9 polls.
He made the pronouncement as he spearheaded yesterday's Oplan Baklas, a Comelec activity held simultaneously in Negros Oriental, to tear down election campaign paraphernalia that were posted in non-designated areas.
He said these candidates run the risk of being charged for violation of the Fair Elections Act that could lead to their disqualification, for failing to heed the provisions of the law on campaign paraphernalia.
Taken down during the Oplan Baklas in Dumaguete were posters of both national and local candidates that were either oversized or did not have the following information and/or phrases printed on them: the name and complete address and contact information of the person/group paying for the materials, and the phrase that states that the said poster is “recyclable”.
Also removed were campaign materials that were not properly erected, such as being nailed to trees or electrical posts.
Villasis clarified that even campaign paraphernalia that are put up at Comelec-designated poster areas but are found to be unlawful will be removed.
The Comelec will do an inventory of all the confiscated election propaganda materials as these will used as evidence in the filing of charges against the candidates, Villasis warned.
Villasis also explained that the inventory is also part of the poll body's campaign finance monitoring, to determine a candidate's spending during elections.
He appealed to the candidates to follow rules and regulations as his office will continue to randomly conduct Oplan Baklas in Dumaguete.
The Department of Public Works and Highways and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources assisted the Comelec in the Oplan Baklas.
Meanwhile, provincial election supervisor-designate Lionel Castillano said the candidate has a responsibility in ensuring that his/her propaganda materials are lawful and are erected in Comelec-designated areas.
Those who continue to violate the Fair Elections Act will be facing the consequences, he warned.
“If we cannot follow the law but we would like to be public servants, better not run for public office,” he said.*JFP
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