The Supreme Court en banc on Tuesday handed down a temporary restraining order against the Commission on Elections’ (Comelec) “Operation Baklas” which cracked down on supposed illegal election materials even on private premises.
The SC ordered respondents Socorro Inting, acting Comelec Chair, and spokesperson James Jimenez of the Education and Information Department to comment on the petition within a non-extendible period of 10 days from receipt of the notice.
The suit filed on March 1 sought a stop to Sections 21 (o), 24, and 26 of Comelec Resolution No. 10730, which states the order to dismantle, remove, destroy, deface, and/or confiscate all election materials that are privately owned and privately funded solely by volunteers and private citizens and posted and/or installed within their private properties.
Among the petitioners, who are supporters of Vice President Leni Robredo, were Dr. Pilita de Jesus Liceralde, Dr. Anton Mari Hao Lim, and St. Anthony College of Roxas City, Capiz.
They claimed that their tarpaulins, posters, murals, and other election materials on their properties were forcefully dismantled, removed, destroyed, or defaced, and/or confiscated by Comelec.
The Comelec provisions cover the removal, confiscation, or destruction of prohibited propaganda material which may be stopped, confiscated, removed, destroyed, or torn down by Comelec representatives, at the expense of the candidate or political party for whose apparent benefit the prohibited election propaganda materials have been produced, displayed, and disseminated.
Any person, party, association, or government agency may report to the Comelec any prohibited form of election propaganda for confiscation, removal, destruction, and/or prevention of the distribution of any propaganda material on the ground that the same is illegal, as listed under Section 7 of the resolution.