NEGROS OCCIDENTAL, Philippines – Election registrar lawyer Mavil Majacuron-Sia of Bacolod City clarified Tuesday that Commission on Elections (Comelec) did not order the removal of “Team Patay – Team Buhay” tarpaulin hung on the Diocese of Bacolod in front of San Sebastian Cathedral.
The Diocese of Bacolod reportedly stressed that they will never remove the tarpaulin and insisted that it is an expression of their stand on an issue and not an endorsement or campaign against certain candidates, thus Sia’s clarification.
Last Friday, Sia’s office received a complaint on the huge tarpaulin hanging at the façade of the cathedral bearing the names of candidates that had supported the Reproductive Health Law (RH Law), said Sia.
According to Sia, the notice was simply requesting the Diocese of Bacolod, Bishop Vicente Navarra in particular, to comply with the provision of the Omnibus Election Code on the required size of “campaign” posters and billboards.
The reported size of the said tarpaulin is 6 feet by 10 feet, when the allowable size under the Omnibus Election Code is only 2 feet by 3 feet.
Atty. Michelle Abella, the lawyer of the Diocese of Bacolod sent a letter to Sia as response pointing out that the main message of the Diocese in the tarpaulin is not really the candidates of the May 2013 elections but about the rejection of RH Law.
The tarpaulin is not an electoral campaign material but merely an expression of the sentiments of the church, Abella said.
For almost 2 years now when the law was still a bill, the stand and the campaign of the Diocese against the RH law has been undertaken and is independent of any occasion, electoral or otherwise.