Press Release
March 9, 2022

De Lima welcomes SC ruling on Oplan Baklas

Re-electionist Senator Leila M. de Lima welcomed the ruling by the Supreme Court (SC) issuing a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) on the implementation of the Commission on Elections' (COMELEC) widely-criticized "Oplan Baklas."

De Lima, a former election lawyer, thanked the High Court for helping protect the right of citizens to express their electoral preferences through material posted.

"I thank the Supreme Court (SC) for issuing a TRO on COMELEC's Oplan Baklas under COMELEC Resolution No. 10730 in so far as they affect election materials privately owned, funded and produced by volunteers and private citizens posted and/or installed within their private properties," she said.

"I also laud the lawyers who volunteered to challenge the COMELEC Resolution to ensure that the rights of our countrymen who wish to participate in the national conversation during the elections are not unduly impaired," she added.

The Supreme Court issued the restraining order during an en banc deliberations last March 8, ordering the COMELEC and its spokesperson James Jimenez to comment on the petition within 10 days from the receipt of the notice.

The High Court issued the TRO after supporters of presidentiable and Vice President Leni Robredo petitioned the Court on March 1 to prohibit the poll body from implementing Sections 21, 24, and 26 of COMELEC Resolution No. 10730.

It may be recalled that on Feb. 16, a week into the official campaign period for national candidates, the COMELEC began a crackdown on what it deemed to be prohibited campaign posters due to their sizes - a move that drew flak from the public.

Citing the SC in the case of Diocese of Bacolod v. COMELEC (2015), De Lima maintained that the implementation of the said resolution clearly violates the freedom of speech during election season.

"In the said case, the SC held that COMELEC does not have the authority to regulate the enjoyment of the preferred right of freedom of expression exercised by a non-candidate during the election season," she said.

"Hindi dapat sinusupil ng COMELEC ang malayang pagpapahayag ng mga supporter ng kandidato ng kanilang saloobin sa panahon ng halalan.

"Ang pahayag ng suporta at napakagagandang gawa ng sining na buong pusong handog ng ating mga kababayan na nasa mga private property ay hindi saklaw ng kapangyarihan ng COMELEC at hindi nila dapat sinisira o pinakikialaman," she added.

The lady Senator from Bicol said she is hopeful that "this issue will be settled once and for all when the SC defines the scope of the regulatory authority of COMELEC when it comes to expressions in various media involving candidates and political parties."

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