Bacolod Comelec Registrar Mavil Majarucon-Sia said yesterday that there was no violation committed if MKK (Magbinuligay Kita sa Kauswagan) flags were hoisted at the People's House (Bacolod City Government Center) and City Hall, since the start of the campaign for local candidates is on March 25 yet.
As far as the Comelec is concerned, MKK is not an accredited local political party. The party of Mayor Monico Puentevella when he filed his certificate of candidacy in October 2015 was National Unity Party, she said.
Majarucon said there might be other laws that may have been violated like the Flag law, of which she is not certain. But as far as the Comelec is concerned there was no violation committed yet. The only question is if they spent public funds for that, she said.
Meanwhile, the camp of Puentevella said MKK is not a political party and it is a flagship program of the Puentevella administration.
This was in response to the privilege speech of Councilor Em Ang Wednesday that “The act of hoisting flags in public places especially on government property bearing the name or colors of political groups in public buildings is a clear violation of our laws, particularly the Flag Law.”
It is also a violation of the Department of Interior and Local Government circular that prohibits projects and properties to be marked with the name and photo of an elected official or group identified with certain public officials or candidates, unless the same is determined by the National Historical Commission, she said,
Ang was referring to the huge billboards mounted at the entrance of the government center and in the welcome arch at the public plaza with the names and pictures of candidates belonging to one political party.
It is also in the Code of Ethics that officials must always observe political neutrality and be committed to public interest rather than personal interest, she said.
Government property such as flag poles, ports and billboards are paid by taxpayers money and are not intended for the use and benefit of government officials, especially those seeking re-election and hoping to benefit from the strategic locations of government property, Ang said.
“Public officials are not allowed to use public facilities, much more flagpoles reserved for our national flags or evolution of flags that are supposed to encourage nationalism and patriotism, not division,” she said.
“As elected leaders, we must lead by example, respect the law and respect the property owned by the city and people of Bacolod,” Ang said
Ang said she believes that white flags are being hoisted in areas taken over by conquerors or military forces, or when there is an uprising. Flags are also hoisted to show support for a certain cause or because the law mandates that they be raised, she said.
However, in this case, there is no apparent cause to support such, or no legal basis at all, Ang said.
Meanwhile, Majarucon-Sia said they have started removing illegal campaign posters of national candidates on electric poles and trees yesterday in line with their “Operation Baklas” drive.
Majarucon-Sia said they will continue to monitor the presence of illegal campaign posters outside of Comelec designated poster areas and will submit a report of candidates who have violated the law to their central office.
Candidates seeking public office should be responsible enough to follow Comelec rules and guidelines particularly on campaign posters and materials, she said.
They will also monitor posters and campaign materials of candidates to determine their election expenditures, Majarucon-Sia added.*CGS
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