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Comelec to appeal SC ruling on Bacolod church tarp

Danny B. Dangcalan - The Philippine Star

BACOLOD CITY, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) will ask the Supreme Court (SC) to reconsider its decision upholding the right of the Catholic diocese of Bacolod City to place the “Team Buhay/Team Patay” tarpaulin outside the San Sebastian Cathedral.

Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes said a significant dissent occurred in the SC’s 9-5 vote on the ruling, InterAksyon reported Friday.

“There are a lot of other details to be threshed out, because the matter has to do with propaganda materials,” he said in Filipino.

“Sure, the Church can put it up, on private property. But what message are you allowed to put on it? That is a potentially big issue.” 

Brillantes said the poll body needs to clarify certain details in the ruling as it could set a precedent for the coming 2016 elections.

“For instance, while, arguably, it may have been posted on private property, there remains the question of whether it was of the appropriate size,” he said in Filipino.

“You can plaster your entire roof, and theoretically use up all of the roofs in the country in the guise of free expression, can’t you?” 

Brillantes said he agrees with the SC that the right to free speech must be respected.

“But, still, the regulation on the size of campaign posters must be observed,” he said in Filipino.

Brillantes said he is wondering why the SC issued a ruling on a letter that a local Comelec official had sent to Bacolod City Bishop Vicente Navarra.

“We have no decision on the matter,” he said in Filipino.

“The letter did not reach us. Why is it in the SC? Now it was declared unconstitutional. This is the first time that I have seen the SC declare a letter as unconstitutional. What I know is that decision of the commission en banc can be declared unconstitutional. We have no decision.” 

The SC had declared unconstitutional a local Comelec order on Feb. 27, 2013 for the diocese of Bacolod City to remove the tarpaulin listing under Team Patay senatorial candidates in the 2013 elections who supported the Reproductive Health Law, and under Team Buhay those against the RH Law. 

The poll body has only 15 days to appeal the decision, Brillantes said.

BACOLOD CITY

BACOLOD CITY BISHOP

BRILLANTES

COMELEC

COMELEC CHAIRMAN SIXTO BRILLANTES

REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH LAW

SAN SEBASTIAN CATHEDRAL

TEAM BUHAY

TEAM PATAY

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