Comelec says Tarlac bet detained for slapping poll officer

MANILA, Philippines – A candidate for board member in Camiling, Tarlac, allegedly slapped an election officer (EO) who was removing illegal campaign posters in the province on Saturday, April 6. 

Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner Rowena Guanzon said Marty Toralba, board member candidate for Tarlac's first district, slapped election officer Teddy Mariano during the poll body's Operation Baklas in Tarlac. (READ: [OPINION] Campaign posters: What's illegal, what's not?)

In a series of tweets on Sunday, April 7, Guanzon threatened to pursue cases against Toralba, who is running under the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan.

She said Toralba is currently detained for allegedly hurting the election officer. Rappler is trying to reach Toralba for comment as of posting time.

"A candidate is detained for slapping our election officer @COMELEC. We will pursue cases against Toralba. Ipakukulong kita (I will have you jailed)," tweeted Guanzon.

A candidate is detained for slapping our election officer @COMELEC.  We will pursue cases against Torralba. Ipakukulong kita. — Rowena V. Guanzon (@commrguanzon) April 7, 2019

She also plans to seek the disbarment of Toralba, whom she said "claims to be a lawyer."

"The candidate who slapped our @COMELEC EO is Marty Torralba who claims to be a lawyer. We will have him disbarred," said Guanzon. 

The candidate who slapped our @COMELEC EO is Marty Torralba who claims to be a lawyer. We will have him disbarred . — Rowena V. Guanzon (@commrguanzon) April 7, 2019

The Comelec Employees' Union (Comelec-EU) likewise condemned the alleged slapping of Mariano.

"The Comelec Employees' Union strongly condemns this assault on EO Mariano. We call on the Comelec to make sure that candidate Toralba be made accountable for this barefaced act of aggression against an election worker who is merely doing his duty of enforcing campaign rules in his jurisdiction," said the union in a statement.

They then commended Mariano and all election employees for doing their jobs despite threats from candidates and their supporters.

"The Comelec-EU salutes and commends EO Mariano and all election employees in the field for standing their ground and for staying true to their mandate of ensuring a level playing field in the upcoming elections even in the face of threats of violence, intimidation and backlash from erring candidates and their rabid supporters," said the union. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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