MANILA — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) will conduct Operation Baklas, a nationwide simultaneous removal of illegal campaign materials, on Oct. 20 and 27.
In a memorandum issued by its Office of the Deputy Executive Director for Operations, the Comelec said campaign materials should be posted only at designated common poster areas.
Comelec said some prohibited election materials included the following:
- Billboards, posters, tarpaulins exceeding 2 by 3 feet
- Election campaign or propaganda materials that violate of gender sensitivity principles, obscene, discriminatory, offensive, or otherwise constitute a violation of the Magna Carta of Women
- Posters that do not bear the words "political advertisement paid for/by" or the words "printed free of charge"
The Comelec also said the distribution of campaign collaterals such as t-shirts, ballers, bags, sun visors, hats/caps, umbrellas, handkerchiefs, ballpens, fans, candies and other items of value is strictly prohibited. It also bans the distribution of food and drinks during and after a meeting or campaign sortie.
Campaigning on television or cable television, radio, newspaper, the internet, or any other medium such as in social media and internet is allowed for all bona fide candidates seeking Barangay and SK elective positions, “subject to the limitation on authorized expenses of candidates, observation of truth in advertising, and to the supervision and regulation by the Comelec.”
“Live streaming on the candidate's social media platforms shall be considered a form of e-rally, subject to existing rules,” it said.
Unlawful campaign materials in private places will not be removed under Operation Baklas due to a 2022 temporary restraining order issued by the Supreme Court. But an election officer can still send a Notice to Remove and Show Cause Order addressed to candidates in case there are unlawful campaign materials posted on public and private properties.
Comelec chair George Erwin Garcia said the notices would be “addressed to candidates, not to the property owners” and that candidates would have to talk to the owners.
The poll body also reminded candidates that engaging in an election campaign or partisan political activity outside the campaign period is considered premature campaigning.
The distribution in cash or in-kind of any assistance through the Assistance to Individual in Crisis Situation (AICS) is also strictly prohibited from Oct. 20 up to Election Day or Oct. 30, 2023. Exceptions cover "basic needs in the form of food, transportation, medical, educational, burial, and other similar assistance."
”All reports of Vote-Buying and Vote-Selling must be acted on by the local Committees on Kontra Bigay...for possible filing of petition for disqualification and election offense cases,” the Comelec added.