LP tarpaulins on skywalks draw flak

(The Freeman) - January 28, 2016 - 9:00am

CEBU, Philippines - A concerned resident wants the Mandaue City government to free certain skywalks of tarpaulins which appear to promote local Liberal Party candidates even way before the campaign period.

Doctor Elmer Ripalda, in a strongly worded open letter to the media, described the tarps as “glaringly unsavory, abusive, unfair, illegal” and inconsistent to the party’s slogan “Mandaue above self.”

The complainant was referring to the yellow tarpaulins which bear the faces of sixth district Representative Luigi Quisumbing and lawyer Carlo Fortuna who are running for mayor and vice mayor in Mandaue City in the May elections.

Faces of those who comprise the 10-member council slate of LP could be also seen in the tarps.

Ripalda said he saw the materials draped in at least two pedestrian skywalks in the city — one near St. Louis School of Mandaue in Barangay Maguikay and another in Barangay Tipolo.

“It is glaring and undeniably a wanton abuse of power as these are hanged in the most conspicuous places — pedestrian skyways,” he said, describing himself as a “suffering but enfranchised taxpayer.”

“These tarpaulins where candidates easily profess that ‘Mandaue is above self’ defeat and short-circuit their propaganda as they have demonstrated that they are above the law. Certainly, the display is illegal,” he said.

“I would have exercised my discretion to vote for some of them. But simple logic dictates that if they can violate the law even before they are elected, how much more when they are in power?” he added.

The FREEMAN repeatedly tried to reach the city government yesterday, through public information officer Roger Paller, to give comments on the matter, but calls and messages were not returned.

Earlier, however, Cebu Election Officer Ferdinand Gujilde said the Commission on Elections remains powerless when it comes to dealing with cases of premature campaigning.

This is due to a Supreme Court ruling in November 2009, reversing its earlier decision in the Penera versus Comelec case where it disqualified Santa Monica, Surigao del Norte Mayor Rosalinda Penera as a candidate in the 2007 local elections for violation of Section 80 of the Omnibus Election Code which prohibits premature campaigning.

With the reversal, the SC effectively nullified Section 80 of the Omnibus Election Code. Section 80 states that “it shall be unlawful for any person, whether or not a voter or candidate…to engage in an election campaign or partisan political activity, except during the campaign period.”

COMELEC Chairman Andres Bautista explained that the SC ruling had superseded the election laws, which used to consider electioneering outside of the campaign period as an election offense.

“If you look at the decision of the Supreme Court on the Penera case, you can only engage in prohibited campaign acts during the campaign period. Essentially, before that, you are free to do anything,” he noted.

The poll body has set March 25 to May 7 as campaign period for local candidates.  However, campaigning is banned on March 25 due to the observance of Good Friday.

“I think the call is on Congress to be able to come up with a law that would spell out with clarity which actions are allowed from this period until the campaign period and which should not be allowed,” Bautista said.

Locally, though, Gujilde said there could be ordinances like those against littering or vandalism that can make hanging of suspected election materials illegal.

Meanwhile, Mandaue City Treasurer Regal Oliva, in an earlier interview, said the city collects permit for all types of posters or banners being hanged anywhere in the city.

It can be recalled that the city’s treasury tried to collect permit fee for the huge “Never Again” streamer attached on the Cebu International Convention Center last year, but Oliva said they could not locate the people who did it. (FREEMAN)

 

 

ACIRC BARANGAY MAGUIKAY BARANGAY TIPOLO CAMPAIGN CARLO FORTUNA CEBU ELECTION OFFICER FERDINAND GUJILDE CEBU INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION CENTER CITY MANDAUE CITY OMNIBUS ELECTION CODE SUPREME COURT
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