Monday, April 1, 2013
Comelec dismayed at slow pace of building election cases
By MIKHA FLORES
FORTY-FIVE days into the national campaign for the 2013 polls, the Commission on Elections has filed only three cases and summoned one party-list for poster violations, a dismayed election chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. said on Monday.
While the Comelec has been strict in enforcing the rules on campaigning, he admitted that the election body has been hampered by a lack of manpower to pursue the cases.
He said he has asked the legal department to start with the preliminary investigations of national candidates who have been sent notices to remove campaign materials in prohibited areas.
“We may be moving very slowly in the filing of charges (but) the fact na medyo mahigpit kami (that we are strict) has already served as a deterrent. Nakikita mo naman ang diperensiya now and in previous elections (You can see the difference between now and the previous elections),” Brillantes said. Building an election case takes time, he added.
With the start of the campaign period for local candidates at the weekend, Comelec will be swamped with more cases of campaign violations and will have a tougher time keeping up. Brillantes himself is resigned to the fact that the Comelec is short-handed.
“We cannot improve on the manpower situation. We just have to move a little bit faster and concentrate on the filing of charges and sending of subpoenas,” he said. Although they have filed only three cases against erring candidates, Brillantes said they have been continuously sending out notices to senatorial candidates to remove illegal posters within three days from receipt of notice.
Comelec’s Law Department has summoned officers of Buhay Hayaang Yumabong (BUHAY) party-list to appear before the poll body on April 11 for possible violation of Fair Election Laws. The poll body is also set to resolve the cancellation of accreditation of Liquefied Petroleum Gas Marketers Association (LPGMA), Kabataan and PISTON party-lists for illegal posters.
BUHAY officers subject to preliminary investigation include nominees Mariano Michael Velarde and Jose Atienza, Melquiades Robles, Melchor R. Monsod, Emmanuel Sison, Norberto Enriquez, Reynaldo Vargas and Joselito Chan. Among those found to have poster violations are all the 12 senatorial candidates of Team PNoy mainly for a party poster that was found hanging on an electric post. Other members of the administration ticket have been given individual notices for poster violations. Comelec’s Law Department also sent a separate notice to Bishop Vicente Navarra of Bacolod City for the oversized Conscience Vote tarpaulin outside the San Sebastian Cathedral. An election offense case carries a penalty of up to six years in prison and perpetual disqualification from holding public office.