Palace: Respect Comelec independence on 'Oplan Baklas'

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 18 2022 04:38 PM | Updated as of Feb 18 2022 05:28 PM

Presidential spokesperson and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles listens as President Rodrigo Duterte presides over a meeting with key government officials at the Arcadia Active Lifestyle Center in Matina, Davao City on Jan. 17, 2021. Joey Dalumpines, Presidential Photo/File 
Presidential spokesperson and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles listens as President Rodrigo Duterte presides over a meeting with key government officials at the Arcadia Active Lifestyle Center in Matina, Davao City on Jan. 17, 2021. Joey Dalumpines, Presidential Photo/File 


MANILA — Malacañang said on Friday the Commission on Elections' (Comelec) independence should be respected after it drew public ire for the removal of oversized campaign materials in private property, which some argued was unconstitutional. 

The Comelec is “an independent, constitutional body,” said Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles. 

“We have to respect the independence of Comelec, especially so dahil election period ngayon (because it's the election period). We respect the independence of Comelec,” he said in a press briefing. 

Those with grievances have “legal recourse that they can also explore,” said Nograles, who is also a lawyer. 

“But as far we are concerned, we must react the independence of Comelec,” he added. 

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Presidential contender and Vice President Leni Robredo's camp earlier said the Comelec should respect the right to freedom of speech, which includes putting up posters and on private property. 

The possibility of filing an appropriate case, if needed, is being studied so that the rule on this issue could be clarified, said Robredo's spokesman Barry Gutierrez. 

Another presidential aspirant, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso, said the removal of Robredo's campaign materials was "wrong and unfair."

The Comelec has denied that enforcers trespassed the private property to take down posters. 

“As far as entering private areas is concerned, it’s always been part of the practice of Comelec to ask for permission,” Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez told ANC’s “Rundown.”

DUTERTE AND THE COMELEC
 
President Rodrigo Duterte's daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio is running for vice president in May's polls in tandem with former senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. 

The President has dubbed Marcos Jr. as a "weak" leader

Duterte said this month he was "not endorsing" any presidential contender. 

"So far, ganoon pa rin po ang stand ni Pangulo (that is still the stand of the President)," Nograles said.

Duterte has yet to fill up vacancies in the Comelec, following the retirement of chairman Sheriff Abas and commissioners Antonio Kho and Rowena Guanzon. 

"The President is still selecting from the list of candidates. May vetting process po ‘yan," Nograles said, when asked what is delaying Duterte from appointing new Comelec officials.

(That has a vetting process.)

"But of course the President knows the importance and urgency also of appointing the very important officials... Soon the President will make the appointment," he said.