MANILA — Candidates should be taught a lesson and forced to shoulder the cost of removing their illegal campaign posters, an election commissioner said Wednesday.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is set to tap police and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority to help take down these materials.
“We cannot just keep on removing these things. The candidates must learn a lesson,” Commissioner Rowena Guanzon told reporters.
Guanzon cited a billboard in Pasay City by former MMDA chairman Francis Tolentino, who is running for senator.
“I see that billboard every time I go to the airport and it bothers me that the candidate doesn’t think that we have the power to order that billboard removed,” she said.
“It’s not a good thing when the candidates think that the Comelec is powerless against them.”
Guanzon earlier released a list of 40 senatorial candidates allegedly with illegal posters in Metro Manila.
It was criticized by the likes of Sen. Nancy Binay and senatorial candidate Magdalo Party-list Rep. Gary Alejano, who both insisted they had no campaign posters yet at that time.
The list also raised questions for excluding President Rodrigo Duterte’s former assistant, Christopher "Bong" Go, and ex-police chief Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa, whose campaign billboards were noticeably much more prominent than those of other candidates.
Addressing all candidates, Guanzon said: “I’m asking them again to please remove the huge billboards because... it’s like telling the Comelec, ‘Who cares about your rules?’ That’s not good.”
Guanzon also wants to scrutinize candidates' contracts with owners of vehicles used for public transport such as buses.
These expenses, she said, should be reflected in the candidates’ statements of contributions and expenses to be submitted to the Comelec after the May elections.
Citing a 2015 Supreme Court ruling, she said posters were allowed in such vehicles but should follow the Comelec-set size limit of 2 feet by 3 feet.
Posters are also not allowed on the side on the vehicles.
Guanzon acknowledged that imposing the rules would be a “test” to both the Comelec and the transport regulatory board.