Comelec urged to probe police’s partisan activities

Kontra Daya Spokesperson Danny Arao calls on the Commission on Elections to investigate the reported violations of the Philippine National Police. (Photo by Ronalyn V. Olea/Bulatlat)

“Red baiting is a different level of negative campaigning. It poses risks to those who are red-tagged and might result in extrajudicial killings.”

By RONALYN V. OLEA
Bulatlat.com

Election watchdog Kontra Daya called on the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to investigate reports of partisan activities of elements of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Kontra Daya received reports of death threats, harassment and red tagging of Makabayan party list groups and their supporters from all over the country.

The most brazen, according to Kontra Daya Spokesperson Danny Arao, was the distribution of the PNP’s newsletter at Geronimo Elementary School in Sampaloc, Manila tagging Bayan Muna and Kabataan Partylist as communist fronts.

“The reports are very alarming,” Arao told Bulatlat. “They’re [PNP] supposed to be non-partisan. Comelec should investigate these complaints,” he added.

The PNP’s Police Community Relations Group (PCRG), in its Twitter account, denied that the newsletter being distributed constitute black propaganda.

The PCRG even posted a link of the publication.

Arao, also a journalism professor at the University of the Philippines (UP), noted that a report in the PNP’s newsletter claims that subversive documents and high-powered rifles were seized along with campaign materials of Bayan and Kabataan Partylist.

This, Arao said, is red baiting.

“Red baiting is a different level of negative campaigning. It poses risks to those who are red tagged and might result in extrajudicial killings,” Arao said.

Jose Mari Callueng, Karapatan paralegal and Kontra Daya volunteer, pointed out that the police violated the Omnibus Election Code and Civil Service Commission’s resolutions.

Section 261 (i) of the Omnibus Election Code (Intervention of Public Officers and Employees), states, “Any office or employee in the civil service, except those holding political offices; any officer, employee, or member of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, or any police force, special forces, home defense forces, barangay self-defense units and all other para-military units that now exist or which may hereafter be organized who, directly or indirectly, intervenes in any election campaign or engages in any partisan political activity, except to vote or to preserve public order, if one is a peace officer, shall be guilty of an election offense.”

The Omnibus Election Code prohibits unlawful electioneering it defines as soliciting votes or undertaking any propaganda on the day of registration before the board of election inspectors and on the day of election, for or against any candidate or any political party within the polling place and with a radius of thirty meters.

Meanwhile, CSC Memorandum Circular (M.C.) No. 30, s. 2009 cited publishing or distributing campaign literature or materials designed to support or oppose the election of any candidate; directly or indirectly soliciting votes, pledges, or support for or against a candidate, among others, as partisan political activities.

CSC Memorandum Circular No. 9, series of 1992 also prohibits posting and distributing of campaign materials, leaflets, banners and stickers designed to support or oppose the election of any candidate; utilizing properties, supplies, materials, and equipment of the government for political purposes, among others.

Callueng said negative campaigning can be considered a partisan political act.

The Karapatan paralegal said Comelec has jurisdiction over these cases.

“Comelec should investigate and penalize the violators,” Callueng said.

Administrative cases may also be filed with the Ombudsman against police officers violating the election code.

Kontra Daya also received reports of police and military presence within the 50-meter radius of polling precincts.

Government employees found guilty of engaging directly or indirectly in partisan political activities may face a penalty of one month and one day to six months suspension for the first offense; and dismissal from the service for the second offense, according to the 2017 Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service. (https://www.bulatlat.com)

(DISCLOSURE: Danilo A. Arao, a convenor of Kontra Daya, is also the associate editor of Bulatlat.)

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