by Miguel Alfonso P. Sta. Ana
Last April 15, the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) office of Los Baños conducted Operation Baklas, a campaign against prohibited election campaign paraphernalia.
Two teams comprised of local police officers, Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) representatives, and barangay personnel inspected different parts of Los Baños. These include the posts along national highway, subdivisions, and lanes in the following barangays: Bambang, Batong Malake, Bayog, Baybayin, Malinta, Mayondon, and Putho-Tuntungin.
The teams were authorized to take down posters, tarpaulins, and other election materials that violate the standards set by the COMELEC in R.A. 9006 or the Fair Election Act. The act stipulates that candidates are allowed to put up poster areas in public places such as barangay centers, markets, and plazas. The size of these areas should not exceed 12 ft. x 16 ft. for party-list groups, and 4 ft. x 6 ft. for independent candidates. The size of each poster that may be posted on each area should not exceed 2 ft. x 3 ft. Materials may also be posted in private places, provided there is consent from the owner.
Elino Batalon, COMELEC-LB election assistant, urges candidates to take note of these rules, especially the one concerning common posting areas.
Candidates are discouraged from posting directly into walls and other surfaces for easier clean-up after elections. Batalon suggests putting up plywood boards on intended spaces and posting election materials on those boards.
Batalon said that a relatively smaller number of materials were taken down this year compared to the previous years. “Nung mga nakaraang [eleksyon], yung isang dump truck ng munisipyo, halos umaapaw [sa laman na mga nabaklas]. Nitong huli nating pagbabaklas, tingin ko hindi pa nangangalahati [yung dump truck]”, he describes.
This is the first Operation Baklas conducted by the COMELEC-LB this year. Further operations would be done if the COMELEC-LB Election Officer Randy Banzuela deems it necessary.