Cebu News

For various violations: More bets face poll complaints

Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon, Rene U. Borromeo and Jessa Chrisna Marie Agua - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - More candidates are facing complaints for alleged various election violations.  


Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama and some of his political supporters were sued yesterday before the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas and Commission on Elections (Comelec) for allegedly violating two election-related laws.

This developed as Comelec regional director Temie Lambino also filed complaint against senatorial candidates Sonny Angara of the Liberal Party and Edward Hagedorn, and Team Rama candidates Hans Abella, Imok Rupinta, Jun Alcover and Gerry Guardo over illegal posting of campaign materials.

Also yesterday, the Philippine Earth Justice Center, Inc. through its co-founder, Gloria Estenzo Ramos, filed before the Comelec complaints for two election violations against two candidates for councilor.

Named respondents were former city councilor Edwin Jagmoc of Team Rama and Councilor Sisinio Andales of Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan.

In her complaint-affidavit, Ramos said that Jagmoc and Andales posted their campaign materials outside the common poster area and in prohibited areas as such on electric posts.

Posters of Jagmoc and Andales were posted along Escario Street based on the photographs taken on April 13 which were attached to the complaints.

But Andales and Jagmoc have assured that they would remove any of their campaign posters placed in prohibited areas.

Andales, a lawyer, admitted that he has campaign materials posted on electric posts.

"Ang akong pagsabot nga ang gidili kadto ra nga makabalda sa mga linemen pagsaka sa poste kay wala man ko'y mga framed posters nga gibutang sa mga poste. Pero og naa akong kuhaon," Andales said.

Jagmoc said he would remove any of his political campaign posters once he receives a communication from the Comelec.

Last Friday, PEJCI had filed cases for election violations against Cebu gubernatorial candidate Rep. Pablo John "PJ" Garcia, Liloan Mayor Duke Frasco and the town's candidate for councilor Gideon Cabatingan.

 Lambino' move

Lambino documented the illegally posted campaign materials along V. Rama Avenue and P. Del Rosario Street.

He photographed campaign posters of Angara and Hagedorn, who was coincidentally in Cebu yesterday to campaign.

Angara said he has not received a copy of the complaint, explaining that he did not intend to violate the Comelec rules.

"Right at the very moment, I have instructed our supporter throughout the country to put down all posters and campaign materials that were inappropriately placed, if there are indeed any," he said.  

Hagedorn said he already instructed the removal of illegally posted campaign materials three days ago.

Lambino also noted that Abella, Rupinta, Alcover and Guardo violated the prescribed area for posting their campaign materials.

The complaints against national candidates were submitted to Comelec legal department while those of the local candidates were filed at the provincial Comelec office.

Once the complaint is filed, the Comelec's next move is to notify the candidates to remove their posters.

Failure to comply within three days after receipt of notice would mean the agency can file for disqualification cases.

"100 percent, I will testify should this prosper into a case. As a Comelec official, it is my responsibility. Everybody should help the agency," Lambino said.

"This is my campaign. My advocacy. I would relentlessly pursue this," Lambino added.

Museo Sugbo, through curator Ma. Cecilia Cabanes, also filed a complaint against local candidates for posting campaign materials on the museum walls.

 Complaints vs Rama

Rama, who was named respondent in two separate complaints, said he is not afraid of the charges.

 "Wala na g'yud sila'y laing isyu? Ang pangiha na lang g'yud? Natarantar na g'yud na sila. Tubagon namo na'ng kasoha," Rama said.

Aside from the mayor, other respondents in the case filed before the Ombudsman are City Public Information Officer Carlo Dugaduga, Simeon Romarate, Jeffrey Cantilla, Eli Espina and Apas Barangay Captain Ramil Ayuman.

Lawyers Perla Centino and Dandel Rose Villacastin, counsels of (BOPK), represented the complainants, Jessica Go and Evelyn Benavente, in the filing of the complaint before the anti-graft body.

 Both Benavente and Go claimed that the mayor gave authority to the four City Hall employees and Ayuman to anchor a radio blocktime program over dyLA from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. from Monday to Friday to boost the image of Team Rama and to attack their political opponents.

Centino and Villascatin said the five respondents have engaged in partisan political activity, which is strictly prohibited under the 1987 Constitution.

The BOPK lawyers cited the Supreme Court ruling in the case of Eleazer P. Quinto vs. Comelec in which the High Court reiterated the importance of the political ban on civil service officers and employees to engage in partisan political activity.

"Respondents serving as anchors for the interest of reelectionist Mayor Michael Rama have clearly crossed the line between making allowed commentaries from engaging in partisan political activity," the BOPK lawyers said.

They added that the respondents have violated the law by using government time to anchor a blocktime political radio program attacking Rama's opponents.

"The above-named government employees used government funds and resources in hosting the radio program because they are expected by the public to be in their work stations during office hours," the complaint reads.

But Espina, Ayuman and Romarate explained that they are just complying with the orders to handle the program to disseminate information to the public, particularly on the accomplishments of Rama's administration.

Campaign poster at DWUP

Meanwhile, BOPK representative Estrella "Star" Menchavez accuses Rama, Team Rama and Collin Rosell, head of the City Hall's Division for the Welfare of Urban Poor (DWUP), of violating the provisions of Comelec Resolution No. 9615.

Menchavez said she filed the complaint before the Comelec over the Team Rama campaign poster placed at the entrance of DWUP office at the City Hall.

The tarpaulin gives credit to the mayor for implementing the Let There Be Light Program.

The program helped several families avail lights from the Visayan Electric Company (Veco) without so much hassle.

But Menchavez said the respondents committed violation because the streamer also carries the statement: "We Support Mayor Michael Rama and Team Rama."

But Rama also said he does not feel threatened by the case over the tarpaulin posted in front of DWUP.

"Ka-cheap ana nga issue uy. Wa man siguro ko moreklamo anang ilang (BOPK) mga posters nga dagko kaayo nga bisan asa lang gibutang? Though I have yet to see the tarpaulin that they are referring to," Rama told reporters.

He said this only means the other camp is afraid of losing in the May 13 elections.

"Desperado na na sila. Pildi na gyud na sila. Paisaha nalang sila sa puting panyo. Dili kay daginuton ning mga ingon ani nga issue," he added.

The mayor also said he does not understand his opponents' tactics of picking and magnifying petty issues.

"Wa ko kasabot sa ilang moves. Nganung wala man nang reklamo ng mga environmental groups or uban nga ang ilaha ipangbutang pa sa mga kahoy ug mga tanom?," Rama said.

Waste-free election

Meanwhile, The Department of Environment and Natural Resources-7 urged candidates to observe "green" or earth-friendly campaign practices to ensure a waste-free election.

Staunch environment advocate, senatorial candidate Cynthia Villar said that if one resort to indiscriminate throwing of garbage, these wastes will return to us during floods.

"Taking care of our environment will save us from disasters and calamities," said Villar, who recently visited Cebu as part of her senatorial campaign.

Villar, who is also the managing director of Villar Foundation, said that calamities would further burden the already poor Filipinos who are facing various problems due to difficult times. - /LPM (FREEMAN)

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