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    Press Conference of Atty. Barry Gutierrez and Atty. Romy Macalintal on Oplan Baklas

    Press Conference of Atty. Barry Gutierrez and Atty. Romy Macalintal on Oplan Baklas
    Leni-Kiko Volunteer Center Headquarters, Quezon City

    Abeya 0:01:00 to 0:16:31

    [START 01:00]

    BARRY GUTIERREZ: Hindi pa ako nanggagaling ng Boracay baka pwedeng ako rin naman.

    EMCEE: Pwede. ‘Yung mga galing ng Boracay, amoy buhangin. Okay umpisahan na po natin ang presscon ngayong umaga. Good morning, everyone. Si Atty. Barry, spokesman, and Atty. Romy Macalintal, good morning.

    BARRY GUTIERREZ: Good morning. Nagpatawag lang kami ng request ngayong umaga for a brief media briefing to address some of the concerns na pinaabot sa amin ng mga- some volunteer groups from various parts of the Philippines over the past few days, in relation doon sa pang babaklas ng material na pinut-up ng private citizens and on their own private properties, noong isang araw at mas lalo kahapon. So, kaklaruhin ko lang, hindi ito mga campaign workers, hindi ito mga empleyado noong campaign, ito ay mga ordinaryong mamamayan na sumusuporta at, o nagpapahayag ng suporta para sa– kay VP Leni at sa kanyang ticket, and naka experience sila ng ganitong klaseng pagpasok sa kanilang mga private properties at pagtanggal noong mga materials na kanilang pinut-up, mga posters, mga tarps, etc.

    So according to, ‘yung aming initial na nakuhang balita o reports mula kahapon hanggang kaninang umaga, nangyayari ito all over from Region II sa Isabela, Region V sa Camarines Sur, Region IV-A sa Laguna, sa Region X, Misamis Oriental, ganoon din sa Malaybalay, Region III sa Tarlac, and of course sa Metro Manila.

    So medyo cause for concern and one of the things na hinihingi sa amin at tinatanong ay tama ba ‘to, ‘di ba? Is this legal? Anong mga remedies naming pwedeng ma-avail dito. So meron na ring in-issue na advisory to guide or at least help out ‘yung mga volunteers who are undergoing this currently. Pero we felt the need na baka magandang mag clarify pa further this morning. So nandito ang ating batikan at tanyag na eksperto sa Election Law, si Atty. Romy Macalintal, to further discuss the issue, particularly ‘yung legal aspect of ‘yung buong pangyayaring ito. So pasa ko na sa inyo Atty.

    ROMY MACALINTAL: Maraming salamat, Barry. Magandang umaga po sa inyong lahat. I’d like to make a statement not only on behalf of the volunteers of Vice President Leni Robredo, but on behalf of those people, non candidates, who are similarly situated. This statement is not only for the volunteers of the Vice President, but those who were affected by the apparently illegal moves made by the COMELEC and I’d like to make this statement:

    That it is very arbitrary and a clear case of abuse of power and discretion and violation of one's constitutional right to property. This is what the COMELEC has done to those non-candidates who posted alleged oversized campaign materials on their own private properties. It was a very arbitrary act of the COMELEC because said persons were never given the chance to be heard which violated their procedural right to due process, when said campaign materials were removed without any hearing. The action is unconstitutional because it violates Section 1 Article III of the Bill of Rights of the Constitution which provides that: “No person shall be deprived of his property without due process of law”.

    The campaign posters are the properties of the owners who posted them on their private properties, therefore, their right to use the said property is protected by the said provision of the Constitution. The COMELEC’s position that it has motu proprio power or “on its own, it can do it”, that power is allegedly under its Resolution No. 10730. According to the COMELEC they issued a resolution giving them the motu proprio power to remove these posters. Well you know it may be the motu proprio power of the COMELEC, the same cannot be exercised without giving the affected party the chance to be heard as mandated by the Supreme Court in the 2015, Case of Timbol vs COMELEC. Mukhang nakalimutan ng COMELEC itong kasong ito na Timbol vs COMELEC, where they were practically admonished by the Supreme Court that in the exercise of the motu proprio authority, the same could only be exercised by observing due process, meaning the person affected should be properly informed, properly notified, and should be given the chance to be heard.

    Like the postings of stickers on cars, as held in Adiong vs COMELEC, where modesty aside, I was the lawyer of Adiong in this case, the posting of these materials on private properties does not endanger any substantial government interest. There is no clear public interest threatened by the said activity so as to justify the curtailment of the cherished citizen’s right of free speech and expression. This was also the position of the Supreme Court in the case of Diocese of Bacolod vs COMELEC, where modesty aside I was one of the consultants by the Bacolod Diocese when we instituted this particular petition before the Supreme Court. In that case it was declared that the size of a tarpaulin or a poster claim by the COMELEC to be illegal does not endanger any state interest, and does not affect anyone’s constitutional right.

    Furthermore, Section 9 Republic Act 9006, which was used by the– as basis of the COMELEC in removing these materials, this provision of the law does not apply to [non] candidates. Republic Act 9006 or The Fair Election Act does not apply to non-candidates. The provisions on election propaganda materials and the Republic Act 9006 pertains only to candidates and political parties. Basahin ninyo Republic Act 9006, wala kang makikita doon na sinasabing the election propaganda rules shall apply to non-candidates. They all pertain to candidates and political parties. There is nothing there that says that they could be applied to non-candidates, therefore, it is not within the power of the COMELEC to include non-candidates to be under its regulatory power when the said candidates were not referred to in the said law.

    The COMELEC cannot prescribe what the law does not provide. The COMELEC may have found some gaps in the law but it is not the power of the COMELEC to supply the gaps in the law because its function is not legislative. If the COMELEC feels that there is a need to add more provisions in the law, the COMELEC should go to the Congress of the Philippines and ask for an amendment of the said law. The poster may be posted or may be coming from candidates, maaaring ang mga posters na ‘yan ay ibinibigay ng mga kandidato, but as held in the Adiong case, once the owner of a private property agrees to have that particular poster coming from a candidate to be placed in his own private property, the expression now becomes a statement by the owner primarily as his own and not of anybody else. In other words, kapag binigyan po ang isang tao ng mga posters ng mga kandidato, ‘yang mga posters na ‘yan ay nagiging pag-aari na ng taong ‘yan at ‘yan ay protektado na ng kanyang karapatan na gamitin ang nasabing poster.

    While the Adiong case happened in the 1992 elections, the ruling of the Supreme Court still applies in the coming 2022 elections which could not be easily ignored by the COMELEC. Thus, the following sterling words of the late Justice Isagani Cruz should be considered by the Supreme Court in revisiting its resolution. I would like to quote from Justice Isagani Cruz:

    “I think we are being swamped with regulations that unduly obstruct the free flow of information so vital in an election campaign. The COMELEC seems to be bent on muzzling the candidates and imposing all manner of silly restrictions on their efforts to reach the electorate. Reaching the electorate is precisely the purpose of an election campaign, but the COMELEC obviously believes that the candidates should be quiet as possible. I have nothing but praise for the zeal of the COMELEC in pursuing the ideal of democratic elections, but I am afraid it is barking up the wrong tree.”

    End of quote. And by the way, you know the COMELEC rules allow the posting of campaign materials only on the COMELEC Poster Areas. But alam ba ninyo kung nasaan ang COMELEC Poster Areas? In this COMELEC Poster Areas, this is where the COMELEC says that ito lamang ang pwede niyong pag lagyan ng inyong mga posters. Kandidato, political parties, and partylist groups. Alam ba ninyo na under the COMELEC rules, “not more than ten public places” could be used as a common poster area. And the common poster area, ‘yung poster nila shall measure not to exceed 12 ft by 16 ft for candidates, political parties and playlists.

    Now with 10 candidates for President; 9 candidates for Vice President; 64 candidates for senator; and some 170 partylists candidates, alam niyo if we divide the 12 ft by [16] feet common poster areas, bawat kandidato meron lamang siyang .04 feet by .06 feet para magkaroon siya ng share doon sa common poster area. Can you imagine how absurd the regulation is. If this is not absurdity, perhaps, we could say it is a very ridiculous resolution. ‘Di ba? Kailangan mo ng microscope, kailangan mo ng telescope para makita mo kung anong nakalagay sa Common Poster Area, kasi ga tungaw lang ang pwedeng ma post kung paghahati-hatiin ng mga kandidato at political parties ‘yang Common Poster areas. And yet the COMELEC says, wala kayong paglalagyan, diyan lang. Maglagay ka diyan sa toilet mo, paano kung nasa toilet mo ‘yung kuwan– sa CR ‘yung iyong poster, pwede bang puntahan, o, “Oy, pwede ‘yan.”

    What the COMELEC has done is a violation of a Constitutional right of a candidate to freedom of expression. And the watchers, I mean the volunteers, nakita niyo kung paano sila pumasok sa bahay ng mga nakalagay na posters na ‘yan. Pakikita ko sa inyo mamaya ‘yung videos. Kaya I feel that the COMELEC has not only violated the Constitutional right of these volunteers, of these private persons, who are not candidates kahit ‘yung Republic Act ay, ‘yung Revised Penal Code, on trespass to dwelling. Trespassing, pumasok na sila. Seizure of property without any warrant was also violated by the Commissions on Elections. Tinanggal nila, kinuha nila, kinonfiscate nila without any warrant, that is not also allowed. So, I’d like to share with you itong some videos and I would like to make some comments as we play the videos. Paki play mo nga number one nating video. ‘Yung– ito ma-share ito, makita niyo sa social media, padala ng mga volunteers namin, papaano sila nagrereklamo. Makikita ba natin.

    [13:42 - 13:53]

    EMCEE: Habang naghihntay kayo, lagyan lang namin ng tent baka lumakas ‘yung ulan.

    BARRY GUTIERREZ: Okay. Tama ba ‘yung sukat noong tent na ilalagy niyo.

    [14:03 - 14:06]

    ROMY MACALINTAL: Ito paki kuwan mo nga ‘yung audio niya. Ito maliwanag na maliwanag, trespass to dwelling. Pumasok ang pulis, saka bakit ang pulis nag a-assist? Walang karapatan ang pulis na mag assist. Andoon lang sila para to maintain peace and security. Pati sila mismo, kita mo, walang notice, walang hearing, basta na lamang pinasok ang bahay. Under the Revised Penal Code, trespass to dwelling. Kinuha ‘yung property, under the Revised Penal Code, as a Rules of Court, you cannot seize property without a warrant. Hindi pwede ‘yung warrantless seizure of property. Ito taga fire department ba ‘yan, taga pulis, hindi sila pwedeng mag tanggal. Anong kapangyarihan ng COMELEC na tanggalin ‘yan? Kaya sinasabi namin na it was a very arbitrary act of the Commission on Elections, in removing, dismantling all these paraphernalias.

    Sir, the second video natin. Ito pwedeng marinig natin ‘yung sabi nito. [video plays 15:23 - 15:45] See pumapasok sila sa property ng tao ng walang pahintulot. They would be directing them to remove, asan ang authority nila? [video plays 15:56 - 16:19] Naririnig ba? ‘Yung susunod na video [video plays 16:19 - 18:10]

    ROMY MACALINTAL: Maiksi lang naman ito. Meron dito ‘yung sinabi ng COMELEC. Pakinggan niyo ‘yung sinabi ng COMELEC– taga COMELEC dito.

    Ito maliwanag, hindi public property ito. Bawal sa public property, we agree to that. Pero ito maliwanag na private property ito na hindi puwedeng basta-basta nalang pasuking without any warrant of arrest– warrant of seizure ano.

    [video plays]

    Bakit nawala ‘yung sabi niyang “motu proprio” Oh, dito kasi sinasabi nung—paki-play mo lang, paki-play mo lang. Sinasabi nung taga COMELEC, meron daw silang moto propio power. Ayun sinasabi, “Bakit wala kaming notice?” Sabi, “Nag-text naman yata kami, nag-text yata kami,” sabi ng taga COMELEC. So ‘yun ang sinasabi namin na wala kayong moto proprio power otherwise napaka-daling puntahan ng kahit sino ‘yung nasabing area na iyan kapagka sinasabi mong you have all the power. Kaya kami we believe na the action is very arbitrary, it is unconstitutional.

    Kaya nananawagan ako sa lahat ng mamamayan natin, ipaglaban po ninyo ang inyong karapatan. Kasi kung hindi ninyo ipaglalaban ang inyong karapatan, wala nang makikipag-laban para sa inyo. Kung hindi kayo sisigaw, kung hindi kayo magsasalita wala pong mangyayari. Ang sinasabi ko ho, hindi para lamang sa grupo ni Vice President, kundi sa lahat ng mga tao na sumusuporta sa kani-kanilang mga kandidato at nais nilang ipahayag ang kanilang sariling damdamin. Hindi para lamang kay Vice President ito kundi sa lahat.

    Sabi nga ni Vice President, “Kailangan attorney lahat ito hindi para sa akin lang, kailangan lahat ng maaaring maapektuhan ng nasabing abuse ng COMELEC of their power should be properly informed of their rights in expressing their own views and opinions on a particular issue in this coming elections.”

    Again, maraming salamat sa inyo. Magandang umaga po sa inyong lahat.

    GMA: Hi Atty. Barry, si [Saleema] po of GMA 7. Sir, ano pong reaction ni VP noong mabalitaan po niya ‘yung mga ganito pong nangyari particularly lalo na po ‘yung nangyari sa Isabela na ganoon pala ‘yung naging pagbabaklas doon sa mga posters?

    BARRY GUTIERREZ: Gaya nga ng sabi ni Atty. Mac, di ba, as a lawyer, as isang public servant na talagang mahalagang-mahalaga sa kanya ‘yung exercise ng karapatan ng bawat mamamayan lalo na nitong freedom of speech, malalim ‘yung kanyang concern. Mula simula, sinasabi natin na “People’s Campaign” ito, ibig sabihin hindi lang ‘yung mga tradisyonal na bahagi ng kampanya kundi mga volunteers ay kumikilos, nagse-self fund, nagse-self initiate ng kani-kanilang mga pagkilos para sa kani-kanilang mga kandidato, and itong klaseng aksyong ng COMELEC, parang may pagpigil noon. At pag nakita ng mga ibang tao ito, merong tinatawag nga natin sa batas, chilling effect. Parang madidiscourage ‘yung ibang tao na magpatuloy ng kani-kanilang kampanya kung meron silang takot na baka pasukin ‘yung kanilang bahay, pasukin ‘yung kanilang private property at gawin ‘yung ganoong klaseng pagbabaklas na nakita natin.

    At gaya nga ng sabi ni Atty. Mac, i-emphasize ko lang ulit, hindi lang ito para sa supporters ni VP Leni. Kahit sinong supporter ng kandidato na magkakabit ng mga ganyang posters sa private property nila, vulnerable sa mga ganitong klaseng aksyon ng COMELEC. So mahalaga para sa amin na mag-issue ng ganitong paglilinaw kung ano ‘yung tingin naming tamang pagbasa noong batas, manawagan sa COMELEC na balikan nila itong polisiya na ito, dahil mukhang malinaw itong paglabag sa ating konstitusyon at sa batas, at kung kinakailangan, pinag-aaralan sa kasalukuyan kung posibleng mag-file ng karapat-dapat na kaso para maging mas klaro ‘yung rule dito sa issueng ito.

    GMA 7: Sir, ano po ‘yung guidance natin doon po sa mga volunteers?

    BARRY GUTIERREZ: Well right now, obviously ang sinasabi natin tindigan ninyo ‘yung inyong karapatan pero kung talagang pipilitin siyempre hindi ka puwedeng lumaban. So at the minimum ‘yung ginagawa natin, i-register ‘yung pagprotesta, ‘yung pag-object. I-register ‘yung pagkakaintindi sa batas na private property ito, klaro na under the law and even under the resolution nag-aapply lang dapat ‘yung mga ganyang ruling sa private— sa candidates and political parties hindi sa private persons. Hingin ‘yung pagkakaroon ng due notice and hearing hindi ‘yung biglaan nalang na pag-baklas pero obviously kung talagang ipipilit, ‘wag lumaban. Wala ka namang magagawa pero i-document para kung sakali mang kailangang magsampa ng kaso later on, kanina binanggit ni Atty. Mac may mga options sa pag-file halimbawa ng criminal cases, meron kang pinanghahawakang ebidensya. Klaro kung sino ‘yung taong gumawa, klaro kung merong video kung ano ‘yung actual na nangyari. Klaro na nag-register ng objection at sa kabila ng lahat na iyon, tinuloy parin.

    REPORTER: Hi, sirs, good morning. Hi, Atty. Mac. Sir, for those affected parties, ‘yung tinake-down na ‘yung ano nila, tarps, sa kanilang properties, can they now file a case and go directly to the Supreme Court considering the limited time of the campaign period? Can they ask for a TRO or–

    ROMY MACALINTAL: Yes. Pupwede na silang mag-file. They can file a case before the Supreme Court because sasabihin nila that they were affected by the implementation of the said resolution of the COMELEC and also to protect the rights and interests of those people who might be similarly situated. Pupwede ngang class suit ‘yan e. They can file a class suit before the Supreme Court para ‘yung mga other parties ay makasama na, hindi lamang si Robredo, kundi pati sila Marcos, sila Leody de Guzman, sila Manny Pacquiao. Lahat na sila ay pupwede silang sumama at para ‘yang bagay na ‘yan ay ma-thresh out kaagad sa COMELEC. I just don’t know kung sasama sila, pero so far, sa ‘yung mga nakikilala kong mga volunteers at mga nagpapahayag ng kanilang mga damdamin on this issue ay pupwede silang magsampa ng demanda sa Korte Suprema. But I just hope na sana marinig naman ito ng Commission on Elections. Hindi na tayo dapat pang pumunta sa korte kasi matagal din naman bago ka makakuha ng temporary restraining order, baka tapos na ‘yung eleksyon ay hindi pa nare-resolve ‘yan.

    You know how it is. Sabi nga doon sa ibang mga cases ng Supreme Court, election cases should take precedence over all other cases. Pero kahit na ganyan ang provision ng rules, marami pa ring mga election issues na hindi kaagad nare-resolve ng Korte Suprema. But we lack—I just look forward to a better action by the Commission on Elections and probably baka naman marinig nila ito at mag-concentrate na lang muna sila sa iba pang mga issues. Napakadaming issues ang dapat nilang gawin. ‘Yun na lamang mga vote buying, hindi nila masugpo ‘yan. Vote buying lang hindi masugpo eh, pagkatapos, ito, gagawin mo pa ‘yan? Tapos papasukin mo ‘yung bahay ng tao kahit wala kang warrant of arrest? Ayun ngang kahit na meron kang isang libong granada, isang libong machine gun sa loob ng bahay mo, hindi pwedeng pumasok ang pulis without any warrant of arrest, without warrant of seizure. Ayun pa kayang very innocent looking posters na it does not, in any way, endanger any interest of the government. It does not violate any rights of other people. Papasukin mo na wala kang warrant of seizure? Bakit ‘yung mga granada’t baril, mga kung anu-anong mga illegal drugs, hindi mo mapasok without any warrant, pagkatapos itong ganitong mga campaign materials, in the exercise of freedom expression, papasukin mo nang walang warrant? Siguro dapat mag-isip isip naman kayo, mga taga-COMELEC. You should not concentrate on this issue, which guarantees—sabi nga “the rights of a person to his freedom of expression.” Sana Mr. COMELEC, medyo mahinay-hinay lang ho. ‘Wag naman tayo masyadong overacting.

    REPORTER: Atty. Mac, just to clarify, are you advising supporters, volunteers to refuse entry absent any search warrant or any documentation?

    ROMY MACALINTAL: Yes, oo. You should refuse and exercise your right. Ipaglaban niyo po ang inyong karapatan kasi karapatan ninyo ‘yan na huwag kayong magpapasok sa bahay ninyo ng sino mang tao na hindi pupwede, na ayaw niyong papasukin. ‘Yung pagpasok sa isang place, may mga ina-allow ‘yan. Halimbawa, kahit na hindi ka pinahihintulutan, ‘yung mga restaurant, mga bars, pwede ka pumasok diyan kahit walang pahintulot. Pero ‘yung bahay mo, hindi nila puwedeng pasukin nang wala kang pahintulot. Kaya ‘yung mga nasa private properties na mga poster diyan, kapag sinabing sinisita kayo, pinatatanggal sa inyo, at sa tingin ninyo ayaw naman ninyong tanggalin at kaya niyong ipaglaban na ‘wag tanggalin, ay ‘wag po ninyo silang papasukin. Hindi papasok ‘yan. I’m sure the COMELEC knows what to do on this matter. I’m sure the COMELEC knows na hindi sila pwedeng pumasok kapagka hindi sila pinayagan ng may-ari.

    What the COMELEC can do is write them a letter, ask them to remove, and if they do not remove and they believe–the COMELEC believes that there is a case against them, then they can file a case just like what they did in the case of Bacolod, Diocese of Bacolod versus COMELEC. In that particular case, there were this tarpaulin posted by the Bishop of Bacolod, sabi nung Bishop, tumawag siya sa akin, “Atty. Mac, ito ba dapat kong tanggalin? Malaki ang poster namin.” Sabi ko, “Huwag mong tanggalin, Bishop, you have the right to have that poster be posted on your private property because the Church, the premises of the Church, is your own private property.” Kaya nga ‘yung Bishop ng Bacolod, hindi niya tinanggal ‘yun upon consultation with yours truly. Ang aking advise sa kaniya, kaya nga ‘yung aking kaibigan, namayapang si Sixto Brillantes nagtampo sa akin noon. Sabi sa akin, “Atty. Mac, okay na kami sana, tatanggalin na. Eh nung tumawag daw sa inyo ‘yung Bishop, sinabi mo huwag tanggalin.” Sabi ko, “Pasensya ka na, partner, pero sa tingin ko talaga there is a violation of their Constitutional right.” Eh sabi niya, “Well, wala akong magagawa, Romy, ha. Fafile-an ko ng kaso iyan.” “O, sige,” kako, “go ahead and I’ll just see you in court,” sabi ko sa kaniya. So, that’s the reason why the Bishop of Bacolod filed a case against the COMELEC and fortunately, after about two days, we were able to get a restraining order from the Supreme Court. And after the election na, saka lamang lumabas po ‘yung decision ng Diocese of Bacolod, sustaining our position.

    By the way, itong COMELEC sinasabi nila ‘yun daw Diocese of Bacolod, ‘yun daw mga doctrines doon do not apply dito sa ating kaso. It does not apply, sabi niya, because it only involves advocacies. Sabi ko, “Saan nakita ng COMELEC ‘yun?” Remember that decision was not rendered by the Supreme Court pro hac vice, hindi ‘yun pro hac vice. Ano ba ang ibig sabihin ng pro hac vice? It means the decision is for that case only. Kapag ang isang decision ay hindi applicable sa lahat, the Supreme Court would always state in that decision that “This decision is pro hac vice.” This decision is for this case only. I challenge the COMELEC, paki-review nga po ‘yung Diocese of Bacolod kung sinasabi na ‘yung “This decision is for this case only.” How could it be? Ang sabi ng Diocese of Bacolod, “The posting by non-candidates of their own campaign materials is an exercise of their right of free expression.” Could it be applied only to that particular case in Bacolod?

    Ang sabi ng Supreme Court, “All provisions of Section 9 on propaganda materials pertain only to candidates and political parties.” Pwede ko bang sabihin na doon lamang
    ‘yun sa Diocese of Bacolod? The Supreme Court did not say that “itong principle na ito, para lamang doon ah? Hindi pwede dito sa 2022 elections.” Walang sinabing ganyan. Sabi ng Supreme Court, “If there is no clear and present danger involved and no compelling substantial interest is endangered, the posting is a valid exercise of Freedom of Expression.” “Limiting the size,” sabi ng Supreme Court, “renders ineffective the petitioner’s message and it violates the right to exercise freedom of expression.” That’s a general principle which should apply to all cases. Sabi nila, “Eh baka naman abusuhin. Baka abusuhin naman ng iba na kunwari ito'y pang-private properties lang, baka abusuhin nila na sabihin nila, “Ay hindi pang-private properties 'yan pero bigay ng kandidato”. Sabi ng Supreme Court, “We are looking at the extreme, the guarantee of free speech or freedom of expression to individuals without relationship to any candidate should not be held hostage by the possibility of abuse by some candidates.” Ang ibig sabihin, hindi natin ito pwedeng i-presume, na ito'y nanggagaling sa kanila. What is primordial is the right of a person to the guarantee of his constitutional right to free expression.

    The fixed size– 'yung fixed size daw ng election posters without relation to distance from the intended audience will be arbitrary. Ito ba, pwede mo lang i-apply doon? Hindi, it applies to all sabi ng Supreme Court, I repeat, a fixed size for election posters without relation to distance from the intended audience will be arbitrary. Anong ibig sabihin? In-explain ng Supreme Court that 2 feet by 3 feet at certain distance if cannot be seen by the general public would render the speech meaningless. It will amount to the abridgement of speech with political consequences.

    Ito 'yung sinasabi ko sa inyo 'yung common poster areas, 12 feet by 16 feet, pag dinivide mo sa more than 200 candidates, .05 by .06 feet lamang ang matitira sa kanila. Sabi nga doon sa amin sa Batangas, aba eh gatungaw 'yan, gatungaw, alam ba niyo 'yung tungaw? Hay naku, dapat kayong mga lalaki dapat malaman ninyo 'yung tungaw. Ayon ay napakakati, nakapakaliit na mapula-pulang bagay na nakadikit sa isang parte ng inyong katawan na pag napadikit ay masyadong makati pero hindi mo makita, parang ganoon ang gusto ng Comelec, gatungaw na poster.

    Kaya sabi ng Supreme Court, 'yung Comelec dapat free expression, free information, there must be discussion of issues. Sabi nga ni Justice Isagani Cruz, what the Comelec wants now is to make the election very, very quiet. Kailangan tahimik lang po tayo, kailangan hindi po tayo nagkakarinigan, kailangan walang magsasalita. Precisely, kaya nga pinapayagan ang lahat ng areas lagyan natin ng mga posters. Actually, dapat pasalamatan natin ang mga taong 'yan, 'yung private individuals for posting materials on their private properties, bakit? Sapagkat tumutulong sila sa Comelec in the dissemination of information.

    Kayo, alam niyo na ba kung sino 'yung labindalawang senador na iboboto niyo? Natatandaan ba ninyo kung sino 'yung mga kandidato for senators? Natatandaan ba ninyo kung sino mga kandidato for party list? Precisely, sa dami niyan, hindi mo pupwedeng i-limit sa common poster areas, tulungan na 'yan ng taumbayan kaya nga ang taumbayan pinapayagan maglagay kayo o lapulan ninyo ang bahay ninyo ng lahat ng mga posters para matulungan ang Comelec sa excess– sa pagbibigay ng tamang information, sino ba ang mga dapat iboto?

    If the posters are seen by the public, it remains the private property of the petitioners. Sabi ng Supreme Court, if the posters are seen by the public, kahit nakikita 'yan ng taumbayan, 'yan ay sarili pa ring pag-aari ng nasabing tao. Pwede bang sabihin na 'yan ay para lamang doon sa Diocese of Bacolod case? Hindi, it applies to all on a situation similar to what we are experiencing now. Sabi nga ng Comelec– ng Diocese of Bacolod case, the Comelec was misdirected in doing its duty. Its role is to ensure equal opportunities and reduce spending of candidates and parties, but not to regulate all limitless speech of the electorate as it strives to participate in the electoral process.

    So, kita niyo? 'Yun ay pwede bang sabihin na itong principles na ito pwede lamang sa Diocese of Bacolod? No, it clearly applies to all. Gusto pa ng Comelec, 2 by 3 lang 'yan. So maglagay ka ng medyo malaki ay hindi pwede kailangan hati-hatiin mo. Magpalagay ng 2 by 3, dikit mo another 2 by 3, dikit mo na 2 by 3, so basta 2 by 3 lang daw kahit na buong bahay mo lagyan mo basta ang ilalagay mo puro 2 by 3, 2 by 3, pwede na, di ba crazy 'yun? Bakit gagastos nang masyadong malaki ang taumbayan para diyan? So, I just hope na malilinawagan ang Comelec at ito naman ay sinasabi lamang po as an expression of our opinions on this particular issue.

    REPORTER: Attorney, last na po. Cause Comelec is also invoking the same Diocese of Bacolod case na where SC said that regulation of election paraphernalia can still be valid if it is a direct endorsement of a candidate, what can you say about that?

    ROMY MACALINTAL: Well, 'yun namang ilalagay natin dito nasa private properties din eh, at saka, hindi po pwedeng sabihin na puro advocacies lang, your choice– your choice of a candidate is your own advocacy. Your choice of your own candidate who you believe is the best qualified candidate is your advocacy. It is our advocacy to have– to elect people who we believe could be good leaders of our country. That is in itself an advocacy, nagkataon nga lamang na sinabi lamang doon na advocacy but it does not limit our rights to that.

    Sabi nga ng Supreme Court eh, masyado namang extreme ang interpretation na 'yan and while it was said to be an advocacy, the Court did not say that the principles laid down in that particular case applies only to that particular case. Hindi pro hac vice. Otherwise, I repeat, sasabihin sana ng Supreme Court na lahat ng bagay na sinasabi namin dito ay para lamang sa kasong ito ng Diocese of Bacolod at hindi pwedeng gamitin sa ibang kaso. Walang sinabi pong ganoon. Nilinaw lamang ng Supreme Court ang issue doon is about advocacy but it does not prevent us from also exercising our rights based on the principles laid down by the Supreme Court in the Diocese of Bacolod case.

    REPORTER: Hi sir, good morning po. There are some questions because the Comelec resolution was promulgated in November, so the question daw po is why raise it just now?

    ROMY MACALINTAL: Well, you know a null and void resolution is imprescriptible. Questioning a resolution does not have any prescription if the resolution is null and void. At any time, you can question that. Kasi we believe that those provisions are null and void, they violate the constitutional right. If the provisions of the resolution violates the constitution, at any time pupwede mo 'yun kwestyunin. We are not questioning the entire resolution but there are only some portions which we are against, ano.

    REPORTER: But sir, why wait for mga 2 months for it to be [reporter cut 00:39:33]

    ROMY MACALINTAL: Well because, kami kasi sa amin, we did not see the effect ano, ngayon lamang nagkakaroon ng mga– ng mga complainants because you cannot just go to the Court without any complainant and now since this is now applied, well, this is the correct time because there are now persons in interest who could file the said case.

    Noon, walang persons in interest, bakit? Kasi wala namang– wala pang tinatanggal na mga posters. But now that the law– the provision of the resolution is being implemented, there were persons affected, they become persons in interest, parties in interest.

    REPORTER: Sir, last question po, earlier you urged the supporters whose the campaign materials were removed to file a case will the camp be assisting or will you let them file their own case?

    ROMY MACALINTAL: Siguro para sa amin, ano bang [inaudible 00:40:25] Ako kasi, nandito lamang ako as a– to make the statement ano on my views and opinions on this but in so far, as the position of the Vice President is concerned, sila Barry nakakaalam noon.

    BARRY GUTIERREZ: Well, right now wala pa namang desisyon on whether or not talagang 'yung campaign itself will file a case that is being considered but definitely, 'yung right to action currently, belongs doon sa mga taong direktang naapektuhan after all, it's their private property, they are private persons, they are not connected to the campaign. May mga volunteer lawyers tayo who are also volunteers, some of them are actually offered to take up some of these cases so right now, 'yun 'yung track.

    But whether or not, the campaign itself will pursue it, sabi ni Attorney Mac for example kanina 'yung very interesting idea of joining with the other camps and filing some kind of class suit to challenge dahil hindi lang ito ang– klaro kasi dito hindi lang naman isang kampo ang apektado dito eh, this will affect the supporters of every candidate, bawat private citizen actually na interesadong maglagay ng poster o ng tarp sa kanyang bahay o sa kanyang tindahan o anumang private property apektado nito so that's something that we will further study and consider. But right now, libre nang dumiretso 'yung mga ano and as far as I understand, there are all ready initiatives to provide representation again from volunteer lawyers dito sa mga apektado at least in the last few days.

    ROMY MACALINTAL: You know another medyo unconstitutional provision noong resolution na 'yan, Resolution 10730 nakalagay doon, kapag daw may mga naka-post na election materials in prohibited areas, the Comelec will presume that 'yung kandidato ang naglagay noon or with his or her consent. Di ba crazy 'yun? Papaano mo naman sasabihin na presumption of guilt, is there such thing a presumption or guilt? Di ba dapat again, there should be notice and hearing.

    Imagine, the Comelec will be writing the candidates. “Oh, may nakita kaming malaking poster diyan sa Maynila, Mister candidate please remove that. It is presume that you were the one who posted that, if you do not remove in 3 days, within 3 days, we will file a case against you.”

    Papaano halimbawa, kung may sampung posters ang kandidato sa Cebu, labing-limang poster sa Dumaguete, tatlumpung poster sa Ilo-ilo, ang ibig sabihin sasabihin ng Comelec sa mga kandidato, o pumunta ka sa Cebu, tanggalin mo 'yung mga poster mo doon, pumunta ka sa Iloilo, pumunta, eh wala nang gagawin 'yung kandidato kundi puntahan nang puntahan ang mga posters na 'yan. Eh papaano kung ‘yung mga posters na 'yan nilagay ng mga kalaban niya, di ba?

    Kaya dapat 'yung laging sinasabi namin, there must be notice and hearing bago gumawa ng anumang aksyon ang Comelec.

    REPORTER: Sir, good morning sir. Harlene Delgado po from UNTV to Attorney Romulo Macalintal. Sir, yesterday Comelec acting Chairperson Socorro Inting said in a press briefing that there are now open to reviewing the strict in person campaigning rules especially po on health protocols amidst some complaints from other presidential bets, sir what's your reaction to that given na earlier, you also aired some concerns on some of the provisions of the resolution especially doon po sa issue ng permits?

    ROMY MACALINTAL: Siguro dapat isama na ng Comelec sa kanilang review itong Resolution 10730 hindi lamang 'yung sa conduct of rallies kasi talaga namang, 'yun lalong nakakatawa 'yun. Bago ka mag-rally, kailangan kumuha ka ng prior approval from the Comelec. That is unconstitutional, that is prior restraint, prior censorship na para bang silang, ay teka muna hindi ka pwedeng mag-rally, kailangan aprubahan namin, malaman namin anong gagawin mo. Hindi pupwede 'yun.

    Saang batas, what particular law that the Comelec get such alleged authority, wala. A rally can only be conducted with the permit coming from the local government unit. Mayor lamang under section 87 of the omnibus election code is very very clear. Rallies and political activities shall only be conducted upon a written permission from the Office of the Mayor. Under Batas Pambansa 880, the public assembly act, very clear also, the rallies and political activities could only be conducted with the permit from the Mayor.

    There is nothing there with says that, “Oh pumunta ka muna sa Comelec,” kaya kayo nagkakagulo sila, sabi ng Mayor, “Teka muna punta ka sa Comelec, di ka pwede.” Kaya, kung kayong lahat dito, halimbawa, magde-demonstrate kayo sa public place. Halimbawa, sampu sila, ang sasabihin gusto namin iboto si ganoon, aba'y kailangan kumuha ka muna ng prior approval from the Comelec and to get that prior approval even by volunteers, by private individuals, kailangan na 'yung private individuals na 'yan na magra-rally, kailangan pa kumuha ng special power of attorney from the candidate. 'Yung kandidato dapat “O, bibigyan kita ng special power para ikaw ay mag-rally” Papaano kung ako kandidato, hindi ko naman kilala 'yung mga taong 'yan.

    Sinasabi nila, mga suppoorters eh hindi ko naman sila kilala, bakit ko sila bibigyan ng special power of attorney, di ba? Ang dami-dami pang trabaho ng Comelec, tama na muna 'yan. Do not become a pandemic czar. Sabi ko nga, hindi kayo dapat maging pandemic czar, kailangan mag-concentrate kayo dito sa mga problema ng Comelec on printing of ballots, delivery of a materials, clustering of precints, reclustering of precincts, napakadami pang gagawin ng Comelec, cleansing of the voter's list. Hanggang ngayon, kailangan pa ang cleansing of voter's list, tapos na ba ng Comelec 'yan?

    At present the Comelec has only 4 members, short sila ng tao. 'Yung trabaho ng pito pinaghahatian ng apat pagkatapos, they would still like to be a pandemic czar? At alam ba ninyo, bago kayo makakuha ng prior approval sa Comelec, kailangan pirmado ng taga-Comelec, kailangan pirmado ng taga-DOH, kailangan pirmado ng taga-DILG, kailangan pirmado ng PNP, kailangan aprubado ng AFP. Isipin mo, tatlong– limang tao kailangan mag-approve ng prior approval?

    Pati 'yung trabaho ng ibang mga tao eh maaapektuhan. So, I hope the Comelec would reconsider. Okay? Salamat, thank you. Magandang umaga po sa inyong lahat!

    [END 00:47:28]

    Posted in Transcripts on Feb 17, 2022