“Para iwas asunto.”
With this terse piece of advice, former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Guillermo Eleazar recently cautioned policemen against getting personally involved in the removal of illegal campaign materials during the conduct of the Oplan Baklas drive of the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
This came after the PNP was severely criticized when some of its members were caught on video and numerous photographs “unlawfully” trespassing on private property removing campaign posters upon orders of Comelec officials accompanying them, which were then featured in TV news programs and published in several newspapers.
Many groups accused the PNP and Comelec of violating the law and partisanship, and threatened to file the appropriate cases against them at some future time.
Oplan Baklas is the official name of the Comelec’s campaign against illegally-placed campaign materials. Based on their existing rules, such materials may only be placed in designated common areas.
“When it comes to elections and politics, policemen should really be careful…it is the policemen on the ground who usually suffer the brunt of the legal implications,” Eleazar said.
“Para iwas asunto, dapat mag-ingat ang ating kapulisan.”
He added that policemen should limit their participation in Oplan Baklas to providing security to Comelec personnel who will be doing the physical removal of the campaign materials so that they don’t end up getting sued by aggrieved groups who may have suffered damage to property.
Eleazar, who served as PNP chief from May to November 2021, is currently running for senator in the May 9 polls under the Partido Reporma ticket of Ping Lacson/Tito Sotto.
Photo: Daily Tribune