MANILA — Personnel of various government agencies comprising “Task Force Baklas” started on Thursday removing illegal campaign materials in different parts of Metro Manila.
On the first day of operations, some 300 personnel from the Commission on Elections (Comelec), Philippine National Police (PNP), Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), equipped with man-lifters and adjustable ladders, were deployed in Malate and San Andres, Bukid, Manila to take down illegal campaign posters.
Illegal campaign posters on Epifanio delos Santos Avenue-Pasay were also removed.
Most of the campaign posters and streamers were posted on electrical posts and wires, trees, lamp posts, walls of public buildings, and signboards on public properties when removed by the composite team.
“Candidates were given a chance to take election materials down. Some have complied on their own and that is commendable but those areas with candidates that have not complied yet are the subject of the operations,” Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said in a press briefing at the MMDA office in Makati City.
Other officials who attended the briefing are MMDA chairman Danilo Lim, MMDA general manager Jose Arturo Garcia, PNP Director General Oscar Albayalde, National Capital Region Police Office, Director Guillermo Eleazar, DPWH-National Capital Region Maintenance Division officer-in-charge Reynaldo Rosario, and Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board chairman Martin Delgra III.
Task Force Baklas will document the illegal campaign materials which will be used as evidence in filing of charges against the violators, Jimenez said.
Meanwhile, Albayalde said the PNP will provide its full resources in taking down illegal campaign materials not only in Metro Manila but in the entire country.
“This is the starting point we will be giving guidelines to all our directors. The PNP is authorized to remove on our own, we just have to inform Comelec officials on respective areas of operations,” he said.
Lim, on the other hand, said the agency’s personnel are committed on tearing down election materials in major thoroughfares in Metro Manila.
“I am hoping that candidates will voluntarily remove their materials from the streets and not wait for the Task Force Baklas to do it,” Lim said.
The task force will continue its operations on major roads and other areas in Metro Manila until after the election day in May 13.
Task Force Baklas was created last February 22 after Comelec sought the assistance of various government agencies to strengthen its campaign against illegal election materials.
The Comelec rules state that campaign posters should have sizes not more than two by three feet and displayed at designated common poster areas or in a private property with the consent of the owner.
Designated common poster areas in public places include plazas, markets, barangay centers and the like where posters may be readily seen or read.
Violators may face election offense charges and possible disqualification if they will not remove their illegal campaign materials. Aerol John Pateña/Christopher Lloyd Caliwan/PNA-northboundasia.com