By Pet Melliza/ The Beekeeper
Last Saturday, February 10, when we assembled at the new Iloilo Press Club (IPC) Building, my eyes got caught by posters on plants.
We were launching the first module of the Iloilo Media Institute, a series of seminars to enhance the skills and perspectives of journalists whose rank of experienced members has dwindled from continuing migration to lucrative jobs like call centers and PR outfits.
I asked Manuel “Boy” Mejorada why the posters of IPC president Rommel Ynion were not visible. His posters are summarily torn down, he answered.
(Anyway, thanks to Ma. Diosa Labiste, and anchors Novie Mallon Guazo (RMN) and Don Israel Vincent Dolido (Bombo), the first resource persons, for their insights.)
Comelec is yet to react to the camp of Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog which arrogated upon the local chief executive the power to determine what is legal or illegal campaigning.
Yours truly has no illusion. Mabilog already made himself suspect when he created a task force led by city administrator Norlito Bautista empowered to tear down “illegal” campaign materials.
Bautista is guided by the unwritten rule of “us versus them”, “cowboy versus induns”: if the posters belonged to the boss and his caboodle, that’s legal. If they bear the smiling, chubby cheeks of the bespectacled challenger, that’s illegal.
That’s what yours truly found out somehow at the vicinity of the IPC building. I got a close look at them and recorded them on cam. They were not glued at, but were stapled or tacked on coconut and “sambuangan” (“bunga-bunga”) palms on the roadside.
Tacking or nailing campaign materials on trees is prohibited by Section 2 of the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of RA 9006 or Fair Elections Act. This insight may be of help to city administrator Bautista to broaden the unwritten definition laid down by his boss.
Comelec is yet to design common poster areas, that means, no one can be held liable for violating RA 9006 for posting outside the common campaign ground which in the first place, is not yet designated by the poll body.
The campaign period starts on March 30 andso far bets, are wise enough to print only their names and photos in their campaign materials, neither mentioning the positions sought by them, nor asking for votes. Comelec has rightly refrained from tearing down those posters or streamers because technically, these are not yet “campaign” materials.
But that’s not so for Mabilog and company. They have not defined what’s legal or illegal campaigning but they already usurped Comelec’s power by tearing down the posters of businessman Rommel Ynion. By their positive acts, any poster bearing the face and name of Mabilog’s challenger is illegal.
Conversely, anything bearing the face and name of their man and his cohorts, is cute, hence by all means legal and beyond the power even of Comelec to tear down.
The DENR in 2004 pleaded of politicians to spare trees. Its secretary then, Elisea Gozun, said nails, tacks and staple wires caused infections. Six months after elections, foresters noted that trees still suffer from infections from campaign materials.
The DENR repeats that plea yearly but it only emboldens the like of Mabilog to usurp Comelec’s power in order to license his people to nail his posters on trees with impunity.