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Moreno backs VP Leni: Unfair if Comelec removes posters in private property

SAN FERNANDO, La Union—Though the Commission of Elections (Comelec) is just doing its job, presidential candidate and Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko” Moreno on Thursday said it would be unfair for candidates if campaign posters on private properties were also removed.

Moreno cited fellow presidential candidate Vice President Leni Robredo as an example.

The removal of a huge tarpaulin promoting the candidacies of Robredo and her runningmate Senator Francis Pangilinan in Cubao, Quezon City during poll body’s “Oplan Baklas” was shown in a livestream.

“So for now, I think mukhang tinutupad nila 'yung kanilang tungkulin. Pero let’s just be vigilant kasi kawawa naman 'yung kandidato,” Moreno said in an ambush interview.

(So for now, I think they are doing their jobs. But let’s be vigilant because the candidates are pitiful.)

“For example, kawawa naman si Vice President Leni Robredo kung tatanggalin mo 'yung poster niya sa private propety, unfair 'yun kay VP Leni, unfair 'yun sa mga kandidato,” he added.

(For example, it will be bad for Vice President Leni Robredo if they remove her posters on private property, that’s unfair for her, unfair for the other candidates.)

Moreno also expressed hope that Comelec will not violate any constitutional right while implementing Oplan Baklas.

“Good for Comelec. They’re doing their job, and I hope they will not violate any constitutional rights of our people,” he said

Despite this, the mayor said that the candidate must also take the initiative.

“So kapag kinabit ng mga private entity or private person, property nila, okay lang. Pero ang payo ko naman, ‘wag natin abusuhin or circumvent the rules and regulations,” Moreno said.

(So if a private entity or private person puts it up, that’s their property, that’s okay. But my advice is we shouldn’t abuse it or circumvent the rules and regulations.)

“Kasi the tendency of the candidate, like me, all of us, is to abuse by circumventing it na 'hindi private naman ‘yan'. While I feel bad for them, but at the same time kami rin dapat ay may kusang palo na sumusunod,” he added.

(Because the tendency of the candidate, like me, like us, is to abuse by circumventing that 'it’s private'. While I feel bad for them, at the same time, we should also follow the poll body.)

Moreno said he had already asked supporters to remove oversized campaign posters of him before the official campaign began on February 8.

When asked if he will push for a reform of the Omnibus Election Code, Moreno said he will propose other initiatives that will benefit the lives and livelihood of the people.

“While it is true that you are right, maaaring dapat bigyan din ng atensyon ‘yun, but in terms of administrative doing your things, i-priority ko ‘yung taumbayan,” he said.

(While it is true that you are right, there are other things that we could give attention to in terms of administration. I will prioritize the people.)

“‘Yung maitawid lang kita muna, mapagaan o mapaibsan lang ‘yung hirap na dinadanas nila. Then, of course, lahat ng mga bagay na pwede pang maibuti ang sitwasyon ng tao at ng bansa for the purpose of stability, internally o externally, we’ll do that,” he added.

(To let them get through or lessen the hardship that they are experiencing. Then, of course, everything that will liven up their situation or the country for the purpose of stability, internally or externally, we’ll do that.)

In a media briefing in San Mateo, Rizal, presidential candidate Senator Manny Pacquiao also said it is the prerogative of property owners to place tarpaulins in their areas.

"'Yung mga kandidato na nagtanggal [ng kanilang posters] sa malalaking billboards, bilang pagsunod 'yun sa kautusan ng Comelec. Magiging maingat din naman tayo sa pagsunod. Pero prerogative ng owners ng properties na maglagay sila ng malalaking tarpaulin sa kanilang lugar, kanila 'yun eh," he said.

(Candidates who remove their posters are doing it in compliance with Comelec. We should be careful in following. But it is the prerogative of property owners if they want to put those big tarpaulins. That’s theirs.)

"Hindi na jurisdiction ng Comelec 'yun dahil prerogative nila na maglagay kahit anong size pa. Kahit buong property nila lagyan nila ng tarpaulin, wala tayong magagawa. That is private [property] so respetuhin natin,” he added.

(That is no longer under the jurisdiction of Comelec because it is the prerogative of the owner to put those posters up, whatever size they are. Even if they cover their whole property, we couldn’t do anything. That is a private property, we should respect that.)

Several groups have called on Comelec to stop taking down and confiscating election campaign posters in private properties, saying it is "undemocratic" and "unconstitutional.”

For his part, Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez defended Oplan Baklas, saying it is “based on existing laws.”

He called on those with grievances to seek recourse with the courts or file formal complaints with Comelec itself.

The camp of Robredo said they are mulling legal action in connection with the removal of campaign posters in supporters' properties by Comelec.—AOL, GMA News