1.8 tons of illegal posters collected
Mike Frialde (The Philippine Star) - February 10, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines – In just two days since the start of the campaign period, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) has removed 1.83 tons of illegally posted campaign materials in a few areas.

Francis Martinez, head of the MMDA’s Metro Parkway Clearing Group, said teams yesterday removed campaign posters or tarpaulins posted illegally along España Boulevard in Manila, Araneta Avenue and E. Rodriguez Avenue in Quezon City and in some parts of Makati City.

Today, clearing operations are set in Mandaluyong as “Oplan Baklas” continues.

Martinez said most of the posters were attached to electric cables, lamp posts and trees. The materials included those of MMDA’s former chief Francis Tolentino.

MMDA Chairman Emerson Carlos said they have been instructed by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to team up with the Department of Public Works and Highways in carrying out the task of removing illegally positioned posters.

“We will remove posters posted on trees, light posts, electric wires and traffic signals,” he said.

Carlos said confiscated campaign tarpaulins would be made into tents that could be used for disaster operations.

He said MMDA clearing teams implementing Oplan Baklas are escorted by police and Comelec personnel. There so far were no reports of resistance to the clearing operations, the MMDA chief said.

He said every step in the clearing operations is documented, with photos of illegally placed posters taken while they are being removed and after they have been removed.

Carlos said the photos are then submitted to the Comelec for proper action against erring candidates.

“It’s up to the Comelec to take proper action based on the law. Placing posters outside Comelec-designated areas is punishable by imprisonment and disqualification of the candidate,” he said.

‘God-centered’

Meanwhile, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) president Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas is encouraging fellow bishops to organize lay leaders who can help voters get better discernment and choose only “God-centered” leaders.

“We encourage the Catholic bishops of the Philippines to organize on the diocesan level lay leaders who can bring to fulfillment the vision of God-centered, honest, competent, committed, strong-willed servant leaders for the country,” Villegas said in a statement.

One lay organization involved in such advocacy, he said, is the Pilipino Movement for Transformational Leadership (PMTL).

PMTL is an umbrella organization of the country’s major Christian groups. Villegas said PMTL is a “significant gift of the Spirit” to the Catholic laity.

He said leaders must be chosen on the basis of four major criteria, namely: leadership abilities, character and integrity, sincerity to God and country, and leadership integrity.

Through a “people’s primary,” the movement will endorse candidates for president, vice president and senatorial positions, based on its agreed criteria under Gabay Cristo.

“May this work of God for the conversion, transformation and renewal of politics in the Philippines be blessed a hundredfold,” he said. – Evelyn Macairan

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