ILOILO City – The barangay hall is a property of the village so the barangay council has the primary responsibility over it, according to Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Iloilo City head Atty. Ferdinand Panes.
Still, he stressed, the barangay hall “subject man sa gihapon sang mga existing laws, rules, regulations, and ordinances of the city government.”
Panes was reacting to Mayor Jose Espinosa III’s plan to remove pre-election campaign posters displayed on barangay halls.
Liga ng mga Barangay city federation president Irene Ong was against the plan and warned of suing for trespassing anyone who would remove the posters.
But Panes said barangay captains could not do just anything they wanted on their barangay halls.
“Some punong barangays abi will claim nga kuno pagusto sila. Kon amo sina, pwede bala nila magamit sa personal ang property sang barangay? Of course not,” said Panes.
He advised the Office of the City Mayor to review applicable ordinances.
Iloilo City has an existing ordinance – Regulation Ordinance 2013-330 – regulating streamers and billboards.
“Those with contrary interpretations may have some legal recourse. Kita ‘ya we always believe sa pagserbisyo sang gobyerno, may ara kita ginatawag nga presumption of regularity in the exercise of official functions,” said Panes.
While a barangay is a local government unit by itself, it could not say it has nothing to do with the city government because it is under the territorial jurisdiction of the city, he added.
“It is not entirely correct nga fully independent…ang tawag namon dira sa Constitutional Law, inter-independency. You cannot do it alone without the other so respetuhay lang. The Local Government Code has specified the powers of the barangay and the city government. It also specifies the powers of the city government over barangays. That is why the city mayor is considered the supervisor of the barangays,” Panes further explained.
Espinosa previously said, “Ang bilog nga syudad naglaw-ay na because of pamulitika,” referring to pre-election campaign materials flooding the city.
Rules regulating posters and prohibiting vandalism must be enforced, he stressed.
“Parehos bala sang gabutang posters left and right. Pati arko sa mga barangay may ara na, pauna-una butang,” Espinosa lamented.
Posters, especially political ones, are only allowed in privately-owned places, not in public spaces, he stressed.
“Ang aton barangay halls are public buildings. Sa government buildings, may prohibition ina. Okay lang kun private. Pati public markets subong may ara na,” said Espinosa.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) Iloilo City previously said it could not stop those running in the May 13, 2019 midterm elections from campaigning this early.
“We are not yet in the campaign period. Comelec cannot impose elections rules and regulations at this stage,” said city election officer Atty. Rainer Layson.
In Comelec Resolution 10429 for the 2019 midterm elections, the poll body set the election period from Jan. 13, 2019 to June 12, 2019.
“Ang city Comelec wala mahimo,” Layson said. “We can only enforce the Fair Elections Act during the election period.”
The campaign period for candidates for senator and party-list groups is from Feb. 12, 2019 to May 11, 2019, with campaigning prohibited on March 28, 2019 (Holy Thursday) and March 29, 2019 (Good Friday).
Meanwhile, the campaign period for candidates for members of the House of Representatives and elective provincial, city and municipal officials will run from March 30, 2019 to May 11, 2019.
Campaigning is prohibited from May 12-13, 2019, which is also the period for the liquor ban.
Under Republic Act No. 9369 (Poll Automation Law), “any person who files his certificate of candidacy within (the period for filing) shall only be considered as a candidate at the start of the campaign period for which he filed his certificate of candidacy.”
It also states that “unlawful acts or omissions applicable to a candidate shall take effect only upon the start of the aforesaid campaign period.”
So what can be done to arrest the proliferation of election campaign materials at this time?
Layson said the Comelec may ask the city government to strictly enforce its anti-littering ordinance.
“Amo lang na ang makita naton nga paagi nga malimpyo naton ang syudad sang Iloilo sang mga unsightly nga mga political advertisements or political campaign materials at this time,” he said./PN