By Pet Melliza/ The Beekeeper
Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog never runs out of strategy and tactics. He just appointed himself Comelec top gun in Iloilo City. Recent press release says he has formed a task force led by city administrator Norlito Bautista to tear down “illegal” campaign materials and structures.
We thought that the agency specializing in determining clean, honest and orderly elections – the office mandated as most competent to define what are legal and illegal electoral acts, is the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
Comelec so far has refrained from tearing down any poster or material, and rightly. The posters that Mabilog wants torn down are technically not campaign material yet. The poll body sets the campaign period to begin on March 29. Candidates have wisely posted only their pictures and political agenda and avoid asking for votes for specific positions.
So far, only Mabilog and his task force have ruled that any poster with only the candidate’s face on it is “illegal”, and since, there is no Comelec-designated common poster area yet, it is illegal to install billboards anywhere, goes his cute ratiocination.
Mabilog has ordered Bautista and city legal officer Junio Jacela, the latter the head of the task force on illegal structures, to prowl the city roads and nooks not only to tear down “illegal”, billboards, tarps, posters and what-not, but also anything that suggests “illegal” campaigning.
We have yet to hear from Comelec how it views such intrusion to its province. We already have a glimpse of city hall’s twisted interpretation of “illegal” campaigning when its agent at the Jaro PNP nabbed a worker hired by businessman Rommel Ynion.
The poor man, paid to stitch or glue posters of Ynion on fences nighttime, was booked by the police officer for “violating” a Comelec rule designating common posting areas for billboards, tarps, flyers and whatever. In other words, he stood to be accused of posting campaign material outside the non-existing designated ground.
The electoral body was–and still is–yet to declare common posting areas for parties or individual candidates. The cop, who must have acted in blind loyalty to the mayor, revised the booking to “vandalism”, obviously failing to see the vandal-in-chief whose cute and smiling face was flashed all over the city even public plazas which should have been spared of such desecration. Venues of his vandalism included overpasses which he painted with “Iloilo My City My Pride” and “Sacred Heart of Jesus, Have Mercy on Us!” Sus ginuo-o!
One scenario of the operations of Bautista’s “kakas-poster task force” (KPTF), is the hegemony of Mabilog and allies over all plazas, other public places, and key roads of Iloilo City.
It will be no different from the famous “Moral Recovery Task Force”, brainchild of Mabilog, which promotes everything except moral recovery, unequalled that it is in its zeal of rounding up prostituted women instead of reeducating them or making them aware of the social set up that condemns majority of its people to penury and forcing vulnerable sectors like women and children to sell their bodies (and votes) to survive.
To state it bluntly, the target of BAutista’s KPTF is Mabilog’s challenger Rommel Ynion and allies who are to be denied a single square inch of space to campaign.
Our memory is still fresh on Mabilog’s reaction to his rival’s “free water” delivery service. The city’s top traffic aide, Joe Tengco, warned Ynion’s truck driver he could be nabbed for “violating” the truck van. Within spitting distance from the confrontasi, parked a truck delivering water but was allowed in because the tarpaulin on its side flashed the grinning faces of Mabilog and company.
When Ynion launched his “libre sakay” program, free rides for students, senior citizens and persons with disabilities, traffic czar Joe Tengco hugged the headline anew for collaring drivers contracted for the gratuitous transport services for “unfair labor practice”. Tengco didn’t mean to humor us, of course.