MANILA --The national government, led by the Commission on Elections (Comelec), has created a task force to remove illegal campaign materials in Metro Manila.
Dubbed "Task Force Baklas", it will be composed of personnel from Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
“We sought the assistance of MMDA, DPWH and PNP as they have the sufficient resources to remove illegal campaign posters,” Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said in a press briefing on Friday at the MMDA office in Makati City.
The task force will start its operations to remove illegal campaign paraphernalia on February 28 in major thoroughfares and other areas across the metropolis which shall continue until after May 13 election day.
MMDA general manager Jose Arturo "Jojo" Garcia said the agency is willing to help the Comelec in removing all election materials posted in prohibited areas.
“The MMDA is willing to help so I am warning all candidates not to waste their resources because campaign materials posted on traffic lights, trees and public places will be removed,” he said.
He said he instructed the Metro Parkway Clearing Group, headed by Francis Martinez, to remove all illegal campaign posters and other paraphernalia of candidates.
“I gave strict instructions to remove all illegal materials of all candidates. We shall not favor certain candidates in removing election materials in prohibited areas,” Garcia reiterated.
Meanwhile, National Capital Region Police Office chief Director Guillermo Eleazar warned supporters of candidates on putting up illegal campaign materials since it still considered as an election offense.
Supporters who fail to comply with these rules on campaign ads set by Comelec will be penalized to six years in jail.
The Comelec assured that due process will be given to candidates before they remove campaign materials.
“Candidates are given three-day notice before they remove their illegal campaign materials, including commercial endorsements on billboards and election materials posted in public utility vehicles,” Jimenez said.
Election materials can only be posted on common poster areas authorized by the Comelec or in public places as defined by the poll body. They may also be placed in private properties, but with the consent of property owners.
Election posters should have a size not exceeding 2 feet by 3 feet.
Violators may face election offense charges and possible disqualification if they will not remove their illegal campaign materials. (With reports from Irish Cana, OJT/PNA)
Photo by Carlo Marco Simpao/Flickr