2 presidential bets face disqualification over billboards
KIMBERLY JANE TAN
Presidential bets Bro. Eddie Villanueva (Bangon Pilipinas) and Sen. Richard Gordon (Bagumbayan) have been asked to remove their “illegal” billboards placed on some of Luzon’s major thoroughfares or face sanctions – including disqualification – from the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
At the same time, the Comelec also favored the removal of the streamers showing the late President Corazon “Cory” Aquino and her husband, slain Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., along Roxas Boulevard for allegedly giving undue advantage to their son, Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III (Liberal Party), who is also running for president.
Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said the Gordon and Villanueva billboards not only violate the prohibition on where campaign materials should be placed, they also violate the size restriction provided under Resolution 8758.
“The clock is ticking, they should remove those billboards. Otherwise they risk facing sanctions for violating election laws,” Jimenez told reporters in an interview Tuesday.
Jimenez added that the Comelec Education and Information Department has already submitted the evidence to the Comelec Law Department “for appropriate action.” “We have to take legal action, so what we did was to initiate it. We gave the evidence to the Law Department so [they] can now take the proper legal action,” he said.
By evidence, Jimenez was referring to photos of the billboards, which are placed along the Quiapo bridge in Manila for Villanueva, and South Luzon Expressway and EDSA for Gordon.
Resolution 8758 requires candidates to put up their advertisements on common poster areas like plazas, markets, and barangay centers. Individual candidates can only erect 4×6 feet poster areas or its equivalent. Violation may constitute and election offense punishable by one to six years imprisonment, disenfranchisement, and disqualification from holding public office.
Jimenez also blocked possible defense that the billboards cannot be considered as campaign materials since they do not have the words “vote for me.”
“We are in the middle of the campaign period and it’s very clear that any exhibition of your image, name should b construed as campaign materials,” he said.
On the Cory-Ninoy streamers, Jimenez noted that they were put up in commemoration of the 24th anniversary of the EDSA People Power Revolution last Feb. 22, which is now over. He said it is only proper to remove the streamers since they were put up using taxpayers’ money but are reminding people of only one presidential candidate.
“There are some candidates who do not have these kinds of access and resources,” he said.
Jimenez, however, said the order for the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) to remove the Cory-Ninoy streamers along Roxas Boulevard didn’t come from them.
Comelec Commissioner Rene Sarmiento, for his part, agreed with removing the streamers along Roxas Boulevard, but said that there was no need to remove the other images of the couple in other parts of the country.
“This is part of our history, bakit natin tatanggalin bahagi ng ating kasaysayan (why would we remove a part of our history). Those are our treasures, itong dalawang taong ito (these two people),” he told reporters in a separate interview. – KBK, GMANews.TV