Comelec to honor SC TRO vs 'Oplan Baklas'

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 9) - The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Wednesday said it will halt its "Oplan Baklas" operations in private properties following the Supreme Court's issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) to stop the controversial campaign.

"In the en banc earlier, it was agreed that, of course, we will honor the TRO issued by the Supreme Court," Comelec spokesman James Jimenez told reporters hours after new Comelec Chairman Saidamen Pangarungan and Commissioners Aimee Torrefranca-Neri and George Garcia formally assumed office.

However, Jimenez clarified that "Oplan Baklas" - or the removal of election materials deemed illegally put up - will continue in public spaces as mandated by law.

The high court issued the TRO on Tuesday after supporters of presidential candidate Leni Robredo filed a petition against the dismantling of election paraphernalia that are privately owned and are installed within private properties. The petitioners argued such activities are unconstitutional and could be considered trespassing.

The poll body was given 10 days from receipt of the Supreme Court notice to comment on the petition.

It's still unclear who will prepare the comment, but Jimenez noted it is usually the Office of the Solicitor General.

"Normally, that would be the OSG, but we still have to wait to see," he said. "As you know the OSG has, on occasion, taken a contrary position to us, so we're going to have to wait to see what their position on this matter would be."