The Commission on Elections has reiterated its call for candidates and their supporters to take down campaign materials, which will be considered as illegal
after Feb. 12.
Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said they were set to resurrect “Operation Baklas” aimed at dismantling illegal posters and tarpaulins as the campaign period starts next week
“We will be talking to the DPWH [Department of Public Works and Highways] and MMDA [Metropolitan Manila Development Authority] in the coming days regarding Operation Baklas,” he said in a media briefing at the start of the printing of the official ballots for the May 13 midterm polls on Saturday.
The poll body official noted they were sending letters to national aspirants and political groups, urging them to put down the campaign materials.
“We don’t expect them to reply to us written but we do expect to see compliance by Feb. 12,” Jimenez said.
A total 62 candidates are running for senatorial posts while 134 groups are vying for party-list seats in the House of Representatives.
Meanwhile, Comelec Printing Committee vice chairman Ma. Victoria Dulcero said the government’s election watchdog had started printing of the 63,662,481 ballots for the local polls and overseas absentee voting (OAV).
Of the number, a total 61,843,771 ballots will be used in the local polls while 1,818,710 ballots are for the OAV.
“In the printing of official ballots, our agency partner is NPO. The NPO is providing us with three printers for this project, which will run 24/7,” the poll official said in a press briefing.
Dulcero added that aside from the official ballots, they will print a total of 1,142,063 ballots to be used in the final testing and sealing (FTS) to test the vote counting machines (VCMs).
“The FTS ballots will be used by our Board of Election Inspectors (BEIs) or Electoral Boards to test the VCMs,” she explained.
Dulcero added they expected to print one million ballots per day.
At the same time, Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said the OAV ballots would be the first to be printed, to be followed by those for Mindanao provinces, the Visayas provinces, Luzon and the National Capital Region (NCR).
“The first to be printed are overseas ballots, because elections overseas will start on April 13. The OAV election would be ongoing while we print the ballots for the rest of the country,” Jimenez said.
As for the printing of the local ballots, the poll body official said they usually start from the farthest areas.
“The order of printing starts from the farthest. Far-flung areas first and then the last few deliveries will be NCR since it the nearest destination,” he added.
Jimenez also noted that the ballot has its normal security features, such as barcodes, and ultraviolet (UV) marks.
“The ballots will have the normal security features that we normally have— thumb marks, barcodes, etc. And there are a few others that I cannot tell you because of security. The UV marks can be read by the machine. If the machine is not reading it, then it will be rejected,” he said.
Jimenez reiterated that posters and tarpaulins with a maximum size of 2 feet by 3 feet or 3 feet by 2 feet, depending on their chosen orientation, should only be posted or placed in campaign areas.
Jimenez warned that the candidate or the political group would be held accountable for their erroneous acts.
“If they say that they were not the ones who posted the tarpaulin—it doesn’t matter because if they knew that the materials are in violation of the election law and they just ignored it, did not do something about it and since they benefitted from the said material, they will be held responsible. So (they) might as well put these posters down,” he said.
A candidate belonging to a political party is allowed to spend P3 per voter while an independent candidate is allowed to spend P5 per voter.
For political parties and party-list groups, the spending limit is P5 per voter.
The Comelec noted that violation of election laws constitute an offense punishable under the Omnibus Election Code in addition to administrative liability.
Meanwhile, the 45-day campaign period for local positions will begin on March 29.
READ: ‘Avoid hazardous campaign materials’