Mar 032013
(Updated 2:06 p.m.) The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Monday said it will be issuing subpoenas to two party-list groups that allegedly have failed to remove their illegally placed campaign posters.

“Papadalhan natin sila ng subpoena, may complaint na ifa-file,” lawyer Esmeralda Amora-Ladra, head of the Comelec law department, told reporters. “We’re preparing now for subpoena to be sent.”

Last week, Ladra said they are preparing election offense charges against the two groups — Kabataan and Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (PISTON) — for allegeldy failing to remove their illegal campaign posters three days after they received notice from the poll body.

She said the illegal campaign posters were still on the wall of Philippine General Hospital, a public infrastructure, along Taft Avenue in Manila when the law department made the rounds.

The two party-list groups, however, had said they have removed the posters.

But on Monday, Ladra said their monitoring showed the groups did not remove the posters within the three-day period prescribed by the poll body.

“Hindi na namin chineck ulit. What for pag paulit-ulit tayo ‘di na tayo matatapos sa pagche-check dapat nga they should be also held liable dun sa ibang lugar,” she said.

She added that under the law, failure to remove the posters after three days attaches the “presumption that they were really the ones who placed those posters in prohibited places.”

Ladra said the two groups, through the subpoena, will be required to make an appearance and submit their reply to the complaint.

After this, the law department will make a determination whether to recommend the filing of charges to the Comelec en banc, which will decide whether to disqualify the group or file separate charges before the courts.

“Maghahanda kami ng affidavit and then also the affidavit of EID (Education and Information Department),” Ladra said.

The EID is in charge of monitoring the posting of campaign materials nationwide.

Failure to remove illegal campaign propaganda constitutes an election offense that is punishable under Section 264 of the Omnibus Election Code. The provision states that any person found guilty of any election offense shall be punished with imprisonment from one to six years and shall not be subject to probation.

The guilty party shall also be sentenced to “suffer disqualification to hold public office and deprivation of the right of suffrage.” — Kimberly Jane Tan/KBK, GMA News

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