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Comelec summons 6 Senate bets, 5 party-list orgs over illegal posters

The Commission on Elections (Comelec), through its law department, has subpoenaed six senatorial candidates and five party-list organizations in connection with their supposed illegally-placed campaign posters. The complaints were filed by Comelec personnel who were part of the poll body’s monitoring unit implementing the campaign finance rules and Fair Election Act. Administration candidate Benigno “Bam” Aquino was sent two subpoenas for his campaign materials hanging from wires around in Derham Park in Pasay City. He was directed to appear and submit his counter-affidavit and other documents on April 25, 10 a.m., and April 29 at 2 p.m. In text messages to GMA News Online, Aquino, cousin of President Benigno Aquino III, said that since the first day of the campaign, his camp has been "vigilant and compliant with postering efforts." "Once we receive notice of illegal postering, within 24 hours, we take this down. We have also reminded our volunteers regarding Comelec postering guidelines," he said. Asked if he will personally appear before the poll body, he said their lawyers will be bringing his sworn affidavit instead. Bro. Eddie Villanueva, on the other hand, was being summoned for his campaign paraphernalia posted on a GI sheet fence in a vacant lot along Quirino Highway in Quezon City. He was asked to appear on April 25 at 2 p.m. In separate subpoenas, opposition candidates Gregorio Honasan II and Joseph Victor Ejercito were directed to submit their counter-affidavit on April 26 at 2 p.m. for violation of Section 9 of Fair Election Law as implemented by Section 17 (posting of campaign materials). In a phone interview, Honasan said he has already asked his legal counsel to respond to the Comelec. If necessary, he said he will appear before the poll body. He, however, raised suspicion on his inclusion in the candidates who were summoned by the Comelec. "I don't even have political advertisements on TV, my airtime is limited.  Ako pa na hindi kasing rami ng ibang posters ang sinummon,” Honasan said. “Why I'm being summoned for indiscriminate postering and violations is highly unusual? Bakit ako ang sini-single out?" "I hope that Comelec is not doing this selectively. I hope that they are not discriminating dahil it will be unfortunate for our process and election kung merong discrimination," he added. Opposition bet Richard Gordon and administration candidate Cynthia Villar were also being summoned for their campaign posters hanging from wires around Tripa de Gallena Bridge, along Barangays 143 and 144 in EDSA, Pasay City. Gordon and Villar were directed to submit his counter affidavit on April 30 at 10 in the morning. In a text message to GMA News Online, Gordon said he was not aware of any summons from the poll body. With the cancellation of accreditation still pending before the Comelec, LPG Marketers Association was sent two subpoenas for its campaign materials hanging from wires around Malibay in EDSA, Pasay City, and posters on electric posts along Quirino Highway corner Kingspoint, Quezon City. The group was directed to submit its counter-affidavit on April 20 at 10 a.m. LPGMA Rep. Arnel Ty has yet to issue a comment on the subpoena. Meanwhile, Akbayan Citizens’ Action Party was summoned for its supposed campaign materials hanging from electric wires at FV Harrison street and Derham Park, both in Pasay City, according to Comelec monitoring team. It was ordered to submit documents and affidavits on April 29 at 10 a.m. In a text message to GMA News Online, Barry Gutierrez of Akbayan said they were surprised with the subpoena since they received no prior notice of the indicated alleged “violations.” “Under Comelec Resolution 9615, notices must be issued and the party given three days to remove any posters. The two prior times we received notices, we immediately complied, so we do not understand where this is coming from. Still, we will file a response as directed and go through the process,” he said. Comelec personnel found the campaign posters of 1 BRO–Philippine Guardians Brotherhood on a metal fence of a vacant lot along Commonwealth Avenue in front of Caltex Station-Casa Milan in Quezon City. The representatives of 1 BRO-PGBI party-list, which include Honasan, retired Col. Eduardo Kapunan, among others, were directed to submit counter-affidavit and documents on April 29 at 2 p.m. Meanwhile, Sanlakas party-list was subpoenaed for its campaign posters on a perimeter fence and electric posts along Quirino Highway in Quezon City. It should submit its documents and appear on April 30 at 2 p.m. Bagong Henerasyon, on the other hand, was subpoenaed for its campaign materials on electric post along Quirino Highway and Kingspoint in Quezon City. It was directed to appear and submit counter-affidavit on April 30 at 2 p.m. “We are ready to explain and defend our side. It was a mere misappreciation of facts by the Comelec,” BH Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy said in a text message to GMA News Online. In the subpoena, Comelec law department head Esmerald Amora Ladra said failure of the respondents to appear will mean they are waiving their right to be heard and present evidence. “No postponement will be granted unless on exceptionally meritorious ground,” she said. After the hearing, the law department will make a recommendation and submit it to the Comelec en banc for appropriate action. — KBK, GMA News