Fresh paint: Leni-Kiko supporters are taking back ‘Oplan Baklas’ mural

February 18, 2022 - 1:59 PM
Youth volunteers repaint a wall with pink paint in Isabela (Facebook/Youth for Leni-Isabela)

A mural painting on a private property was painted over by authorities as part of a supposed operation to remove illegal campaign paraphernalia.

This mural was previously made by a group of volunteers with the consent of the homeowner in support of electoral candidates for the 2022 polls.

The dismantling of campaign paraphernalia was part of the Commission on Elections“Oplan Baklas” activities.

Some supporters, however, reported that authorities took down tarpaulins and posters even within the premises of private properties.

A group called “Isabela Para Kay Leni-Kiko” reported that a pink wall painting that showed support for the candidacies of Vice President Leni Robredo and Sen. Kiko Pangilinan was also removed.

In their post, they pointed out that the mural was located in a private residence.

“Matapos ang baklasan ng tarps sa volunteer center ng Sambayanan Santiago City Volunteers for Leni-Kiko kahapon, mural painting naman sa isang private property ang pinagdiskitahan sa Brgy. Ipil, Echague, Isabela,” the post reads.

Twitter user @Attillah_theHun also reported the same incident on the micro-blogging platform.

“This Leni-Kiko mural (ON PRIVATE PROPERTY) made by youth volunteers suddenly got destroyed! For the past days, pinag-hirapan po iyan ng volunteers from Youth for Leni Isabela. Tapos ginanito niyo lang?!” the Twitter user said.

In a statement, the youth groupl called “Youth for Leni-Isabela,” who made the mural shared that they created this huge art project last February 13.

“Nitong Pebrero 13, nagtipon ang Youth for Leni – Isabela volunteers upang pintahan ang isang PRIVATELY-OWNED na pader sa Barangay Ipil, Echague. Kahit na inabutan ng ambon at ng dilim, nagsumikap ang mga volunteer sa mural painting. Mula sa volunteer ang pader, ang pintura, ang sipag, at ang tiyagang kinailangan upang masakatuparan ang event,” the group said.

However, in the morning of February 17, some armed men were spotted covering it with white paint.

The group decried the destruction of their work. They pointed out that the provincial police could be liable for trespassing, defacement and vandalism of the private property.

“Wala sa Omnibus Election Code ang nagbabawal sa mga mural painting bilang pagpapakita ng suporta sa mga kandidato. Maituturing na kaso ng TRESPASSING, DEFACEMENT, AT VANDALISM NG PRIVATE PROPERTY ang aksyong pinangunahan ng uniformed officers mula Echague,” the group said.

Fighting back

Later that day, both groups, Youth for Leni-Isabela and Isabela Para Kay Leni-Kiko, and other supporters gathered again at the site to cover the wall with pink paint.

Pink is the campaign color of the tandem of Robredo and Pangilinan.

Videos of the event were posted on the Facebook page of the group Isabela Para Kay Leni-Kiko.

Based on the videos, the supporters also lit candles and placed them at the foot of the wall where the mural was removed.

“Hindi tayo magpapatinag!” the group said.

Some supporters also suggested alternative posters for campaigning that Comelec personnel will not take down.

Theater actor Reb Atadero later posted screenshots of these creative posters on Facebook.

Comelec’s response

In an interview with CNN Philippines on February 18, Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said that the poll body’s personnel are taking down oversized printed materials.

When asked about the inclusion of murals, Jimenez said that it acted as a poster.

“Technically murals are not included in our resolution, but there was consent for it to be painted over. The mural acted like a poster but the medium was different,” he was quoted as saying.

Jimenez also claimed that authorities who entered the premises had consent.

“In terms of private property, we didn’t enter those places without consent. Nagpaalam ‘yung Comelec officials and pointed out that the materials were in violation of the rules,” he said.