Gordon, Villanueva: Why pick on us?
By Edson C. Tandoc Jr., Tina Santos
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—Bring it on.
Sen. Richard Gordon is not taking down his huge billboards on EDSA and on South Luzon Expressway despite an order from the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for him to remove them.
“I will not dismantle it. I don’t own it. It does not belong to me,” Gordon, a presidential candidate of the Bagumbayan Party, said Wednesday when asked about the Comelec order.
Gordon, his running mate Bayani Fernando and presidential candidate Eddie Villanueva of Bangon Pilipinas have billboards that exceed the mandated size, Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said Wednesday.
The Fair Election Act specifies that the maximum size of posters should be 2 ft by 3 ft. For streamers announcing a public meeting, it’s 3 ft by 8 ft, which can be placed five days before the event and should be removed within 24 hours after the event.
Without his knowledge
Gordon said the two huge billboards that the Comelec referred to as oversized were donated by supporters and were put up without his knowledge.
The supporters have not called him to seek any advice on what to do with the two billboards that also include an image of Fernando.
“I have not talked to them. I have not even thanked them,” Gordon said.
One of the two billboards was put up by the best friend of his daughter Marnie. “That is their property,” he said.
Gordon said the putting up of the billboards on private property was part of freedom of expression. “That’s a constitutional right if I want to express support to any candidate,” he added.
Bangon Pilipinas campaign manager Lyndon Cana said the Comelec rules were not being applied fairly among all national candidates.
He said that along EDSA (Epifanio delos Santos Avenue) and other major thoroughfares, which are not designated common poster areas, posters of other candidates were prominently displayed with no one from the Comelec complaining.
“A supporter of genuine change has volunteered to put up a poster of Bro. Eddie Villanueva. Now this poster is being used to threaten Bro. Eddie with disqualification. Why zero in on this poster?” Cana said in a statement.
Bangon Pilipinas secretary general Ted Pascua said the party had already taken down Villanueva’s big billboard in Quiapo, Manila, the first time the Comelec warned against billboards that go beyond the allowable size.
He said a huge billboard in Balintawak, Quezon City, was still up because it was put up in one of Bangon Pilipinas’ headquarters. “Hence we have a huge billboard there,” Pascua said.
“Bangon Pilipinas will comply with whatever legal rules and requirements Comelec is validly mandated to enforce,” he added.
Cory, Ninoy banners
In Manila, Mayor Alfredo Lim assailed the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) for removing banners of the late President Corazon “Cory” Aquino and her husband, martyred Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. in the city.
Lim said MMDA men removed the banners along Roxas Boulevard and around Anda Circle without the consent of the local government.
The streamers’ removal was done even before the Comelec announced that it would ask the city government to put the materials down, according to the mayor.
Lim said it was the second time that the MMDA illegally put down the streamers the city had placed along Roxas Boulevard.
Lim said he received a call from Chief Supt. Rodolfo Magtibay, Manila Police District director, informing him that MMDA men were dismantling the streamers at around 10:30 a.m. on Sunday.
P50 per streamer
Lim claimed that the workers, whom authorities invited for questioning, were paid P50 for every streamer they took down.
The Comelec earlier said that it would ask the Manila government to put down all the posters of Cory and Ninoy to emphasize that one could not post campaign materials anywhere except in common poster areas.
It added that while the streamers were placed for the celebration of the 25th EDSA People Power Revolution, the image of Cory was also being used for the campaign of her son, Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, the Liberal Party standard-bearer
In Daet, Camarines Norte, Noynoy Aquino said the authorities were “stretching” the meaning of the Omnibus Election Code in claiming that the banners violated election rules.
“If we follow the line of argument, perhaps they should remove the Ninoy Aquino in NAIA (the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila) … Perhaps they should change (the name) of the municipality of Ninoy Aquino,” he said.
“Their position is somewhat absurd,” the LP standard-bearer added.
In the first district of Batangas, campaign posters of deposed President Joseph Estrada and his running mate, Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay, have been removed, their camp said.
“What’s puzzling is that only Erap (Estrada) and Binay posters are singled out while those from administration candidate Gilbert Teodoro and that of Ermita’s son Edwin, who is running for vice governor, are untouched,” said Binay’s spokesperson, Lito Anzures.
Estrada and Binay went on a motorcade and held a rally in the first district of Batangas on Tuesday. With reports from Dona Z. Pazzibugan, Philip C. Tubeza and Norman Bordadora