Supreme Court Stops Comelec's Poster Crackdown Temporarily

For posters within private property.
Photo/s: Screenshot from Comelec/Facebook

(UPDATE) The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered the Commission on Elections to suspend its crackdown on allegedly illegal and oversized campaign posters installed within private properties, acting on a petition filed by supporters of Vice President Leni Rorbedo.

The high court issued a temporary restraining order against the Comelec and its spokesperson James Jimenez, prohibiting them to implement Sections 21(o), 24, and 26 of Comelec Resolution 10730 with respect to the dismantling of privately-owned and funded campaign materials posted within their own property.

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In their petition, Robredo's supporters said Comelec Resolution 10730, which sets the guidelines for campaigning in the 2022 elections, applies only to candidates and political parties. They had accused the poll body of taking down campaign posters inside private property and put up by non-candidates.

Citing the Supreme Court ruling on the Diocese of Bacolod vs. Comelec, the petitioners said private individuals have the right to express their beliefs in relation to the elections.

They said posting of election materials in their private property is an act of ownership, and any restriction against such right must be reasonable and covered by law.

The petitioners also asked the Supreme Court to return and restore all tarpaulins, posters, billboards, and other election materials posted by private individuals within private property that were dismantled and confiscated under Oplan Baklas.

The Supreme Court ordered Comelec and Jimenez to comment on the petition within 10 days from receipt of notice.

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Jimenez has yet to respond to requests for comment on the Supreme Court order, but he earlier said the Comelec was open to reviewing the guidelines.

Oplan Baklas, however, would continue for posters that are posted in restricted areas, he added.

"Hindi naman yung kabuuan ng Operation Baklas ang kontrobersyal, doon lang sa involved ang private property. But for the streets, yung mga nasa public spaces, yung nakakakabit sa kawad ng kuryente, tuloy kaming magbabaklas," Jimenez said.

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