'Team Patay' tarp: Exercising religious freedom?

By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 01 2013 04:13 PM | Updated as of Mar 02 2013 12:13 AM

MANILA – An election lawyer said on Friday that the "Team Patay” and “Team Buhay” posters at the San Sebastian Cathedral in Bacolod are not covered by the Commission on Elections’ (Comelec) regulations on election campaigns.

Atty. Romulo Macalintal said the poster is an exercise of religious freedom.

"The church cannot be prevented by Comelec from putting up their huge tarpaulin of ‘buhay’ and ‘patay’ candidates even if oversized since the church is a private property. It’s part of its religious freedom to disseminate its religious position and messages to its parishioners which the Comelec cannot prohibit by its rules on campaigning,” he said.

Macalintal also said the poster is not a form of campaigning.

"Strictly speaking, the church is not ‘campaigning’ but merely reiterating and giving emphasis on the Church's stand against the RH [Reproductive Health] Bill,” he said.

Macalintal instead wants the poll body to focus on voter education.

"I repeat: Halos araw-araw na lang puro isyu on illegal posters ang naririnig. It’s time to move on to voters’ education on proper use of right of suffrage," he said.

Macalintal's statements were in response to Comelec’s warning that  the diocese of Bacolod will be charged for an election offense if they fail to take down the oversized poster.