Candidates who do not comply with rules on campaign paraphernalia may end up being included in the Commission on Elections' online "shame campaign" against violators come the start of the campaign period.
On Tuesday, Comelec chair Andres Bautista said the Comelec will officially start its call for submissions next week, when the campaign period for national candidates kicks off on Feb. 9.
"We want to establish a citizen reporting mechanism. Alam naman natin na kung saan saan itong mga illegal o unlawful campaign materials kaya we also want to embark on a shame campaign," he said.
He added: "We want to encourage the public to take photos of violators and provide us the details: location, the party or the candidate that is involved, and other pertinent info that will assist us in finding and investigating these violations."
The poll chief issued his remarks on the same day the Comelec signed a memoranda of agreement with the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) on "Operation Baklas," where personnel of the two agencies will be authorized to take down unlawful campaign materials, or those posted outside designated areas.
Present during the MOA signing were Public Works Sec. Rogelio Singson, MMDA chair Emerson Carlos and Bautista.
But this early, Singson has expressed concern over the taking down of illegal campaign materials located along local roads.
“Ang concern ko lang at nabanggit ko nga kay Chairman (Bautista) we have full control over national roads ang problema namin ‘yung pagpasok sa mga local roads. So, ang sabi ko pwede ba kami magpatulong sa AFP or PNP para makapasok kami sa local roads at sa mga liblib na mga lugar. We were given the assurance by the chairman that we will get the support,” he said.
For his part, Carlos said: “Now we are doubly emboldened because we are armed with a MOA with Comelec para may panglaban ‘yung mga tao nmin kapag may mga nabaklas na billboard lalo na sa local areas kasi alam naman po natin ‘yung mga tauhan natin nakakaencounter ng maraming isyu kapag kami ang nagbabaklas ng billboards and with this MOA meron àuthority mga tauhan namin na makapagbaba ng mga billboards na dapat ibaba.”
Candidates are not supposed to post campaign materials on trees or plants, public thoroughfares, lamp posts, sidewalks and overpasses, the Comelec said.
Violations will also include the excessive use of plastic and "irresponsible disposal of campaign materials."
Candidates who will be found to have authorized the said violations will also face penalties that will be indicated in the rules and regulations to be released by the poll body.
Asked how the Comelec will address candidates' claims that they do not know about the postings that would be linked to their campaigns, Bautista said, "Basta tatanggalin namin. later on pwede silang mag-explain and we will investigate kung totoo 'yun." — RSJ, GMA News