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Takot lahat! Comelec admits it can’t punish campaign poster violators because nobody wants to be witness

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The Commission on Elections (Comelec) in Negros Oriental on Monday launched a province-wide campaign to take down illegal election campaign materials, even as it admitted facing a dilemma in prosecuting those who are violating the law.

“Even though it is an election offense to put up election campaign materials outside of Comelec-designated poster areas, the reality is that it is difficult to prosecute anybody,” said lawyer Juvenal Tuale, acting election officer of this city, in the Cebuano dialect.

“It is because nobody would want to stand as a witness. Besides, I believe that it is not the candidates but the people they hire that put up these illegal campaign materials everywhere,” he added.

The candidates, Tuale said, ought to be more responsible and mindful when asking their supporters or hiring people to put up their campaign materials according to what is stipulated in the law.

Provincial Election Supervisor Eliseo Labaria led the activity in this city with Tuale, and joined by personnel of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

Campaign materials that were nailed on trees, stuck on electric poles, or pasted on fences, walls, houses and buildings were taken down, and also those that did not meet the specified measurements, such as billboard-sized tarpaulins.

According to Tuale, residents have the right to take down posters and other campaign materials that are put up on their private property.

However, they do not have the authority to remove the same from electric posts or from other areas that appear to be illegal to “avoid conflict” with either the candidate or those who put them there, he pointed out.

The election officer lamented that one day is not enough for them to remove all the illegal campaign materials as they have other important tasks to attend to in the wake of the upcoming May 13 midterm polls.

Tuale is hoping that the candidates, their supporters, and hired hands would be more responsible in putting up election campaign materials.

Meanwhile, the campaign materials that were taken down were brought to the DPWH and for the ones that are still re-usable, the candidates are welcome to come and collect them. (PNA)