Inquirer.net : Comelec starts ‘Operation Baklas’; ‘unlawful’ election materials removed

16 February 2022

By John Eric Mendoza | Inquirer.net

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Wednesday started its ‘Operation Baklas’ to remove “unlawful” election materials posted by political candidates across Metro Manila.

The operation, which began in the morning, covered the cities of Pasay, Makati, Mandaluyong, Quezon City, Pasig, and Caloocan.

The non-compliant posters were removed by personnel of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority and by Comelec officials.

Oversized posters and those which are either displayed in non-common poster areas were also removed by the authorities.

Comelec officials removed campaign posters posted by the tandem of Vice President Leni Robredo and Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan in their Quezon City headquarters.

Robredo spokesperson Barry Gutierrez, in response, said Comelec Resolution 10730 “limits any removals only to materials produced by candidates or parties.”

“Posters put up by private persons on private property are protected by the Constitutional right to freedom of speech,” Gutierrez told reporters.

“This right of private citizens must be respected,” he added.

A number of campaign posters for the tandem of Bongbong Marcos and Davao City Mayor Sara-Duterte Carpio were also removed.

Victor Rodriguez, the spokesperson of Marcos Jr., said the commission needs to “strike a balance” in doing their mandates and respecting the freedom of expression.

“We have many supporters who, on their own initiative, have put up Bongbong Marcos-Sara Duterte UniTeam billboards and for which we are extremely grateful,” Rodriguez told INQUIRER.net in a text message.

“While the Comelec has the mandate to carry out, in doing so we urge them to strike a balance with an individual’s right to freedom of expression especially if it is in his or her private property or ownership,” he added.

Under Comelec Resolution 10488, campaign posters should not be bigger than 2 feet by 3 feet and should only be displayed in common poster areas or private properties with the consent of the owners.

Posters and tarpaulins of political parties and party-list groups should only measure 12 feet by 16 feet or its equivalent not exceeding 192 square feet, while stickers should not be bigger than 8.5 inches by 11 inches.