Baguio court suspends Comelec's controversial campaigning rules

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 01 2022 05:23 PM | Updated as of Mar 02 2022 12:30 AM

An estimated 40,000 Ilonggos showed up to express their support for the presidential bid of Vice President Leni Robredo at the Iloilo Sports Complex on February 25, 2022. VP Leni Media Bureau, handout/file
An estimated 40,000 Ilonggos showed up to express their support for the presidential bid of Vice President Leni Robredo at the Iloilo Sports Complex on February 25, 2022. VP Leni Media Bureau, handout/file

(UPDATED) A Regional Trial Court in Baguio City has ordered the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to stop for 72 hours the implementation of its resolution requiring volunteer groups supporting candidates to secure a permit from the poll body for face-to-face campaign activities.

In a petition filed Monday, supporters of presidential candidate Leni Robredo urged the court to nullify Comelec Resolution No. 10732, which sets the rules on physical campaigning amid the pandemic. 

On the same day, Baguio RTC executive judge Ligaya Itliong-Rivera issued a 72-hour temporary restraining order (TRO) against the Comelec resolution.

Kay Liggayu, one of the petitioners, told ABS-CBN News that the TRO can be "the basis for protection of all volunteers supporting any and all candidates all over the country as COMELEC Main Office is also enjoined. The extension of the TRO will be heard in the next few days.”

Liggayu said the TRO is in relation to the permits being required of the volunteers, adding that they are not candidates. 

Liggayu told ABS-CBN News that the Comelec resolution requires permits for all campaign-related activities. “Our position is that we are not covered because we are just volunteers.” Ligayu said.

The petitioners are represented by Baguio-Benguet Lawyers for Leni volunteers: lawyers Maarin Makalintal-Cabato, Cristina Joy Balajadia, Christopher Donaal and Krishia Evangelista.

Comelec spokesman James Jimenez earlier said the poll body has yet to receive a copy of the court order. 

"I would expect that would be handled by the regional campaign committee. I don’t know that the RTC has jurisdiction over the Comelec,” Jimenez told reporters at the poll body’s office in Manila.

The poll body requires candidates to get a campaign permit from from the local government unit to be submitted local election officer before mounting a face-to-face campaign event.

Presidential candidate Leody de Guzman was earlier flagged for not getting a permit for face-to-face activities in the early days of the official campaign period, but the Comelec has not gone after him.

Some election lawyers had already raised concerns over the resolution, with one saying it is "potentially unconstitutional."

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