Comelec to reverse ruling on candidate airtime restriction
Pushes for democratization
rather than restriction
By Office of Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano
March 8. 2013
PASAY CITY – "Now that the
Commission on Elections (Comelec) has a quorum, it can now reverse the
ruling on limiting advertising time to 120 minutes for TV and 180
minutes for radio."
This was the statement of
Senator Alan Cayetano today as President Benigno Aquino III announced
the appointment of former Ambassador Macabangkit Lanto and Atty.
Bernadette Sardillo as the new Comelec commissioners to replace former
Commissioners Rene Sarmiento and Armando Veloso who both retired last
The Senator had long been
urging the Comelec to reconsider its ruling on the time limit for
candidate advertisements, saying that the agency should democratize
campaigning rather than put limits to it.
Ad limits are anti-poor
The Senator said that
limiting the advertising airtime, particularly for radio, deprives the
masses of much-needed information about their candidates.
"With 180 minutes for all
radio stations nationwide, that means candidates only have four
30-second spots for 80 provinces. Considering that we would also need
to allot a great percentage of the 180 minutes to national issues, how
will we get our message to our voters in the provinces and our stand
on local issues with that limited amount of time?" Cayetano
Right to be informed
Cayetano added that with
media being the most effective and most cost-efficient way to inform
voters about their candidates, the aim of lessening the spending of
candidates by limiting or regulating air time is at the expense of
lessening voters’ opportunities to know their candidates more in order
to vote wisely.
"I am not merely pushing for
more leeway for candidates to advertise themselves during the
campaign, I am fighting for the right of the people to be informed and
to make the right choice when they vote. I am pushing for a more
mature system of elections where in leveling the playing field means
we focus more on enhancing people participation rather than increasing
regulations," Cayetano stressed.
Monitor spending, not Ad
Cayetano also said that
instead of focusing on limiting advertising time, the Comelec should
focus on monitoring candidates' campaign spending and the source of
the funds used to advertise. "Maraming mga taong gumagamit ng pera na
pang-advertise na nagmula sa illegal na paraan – sa gambling,
smuggling, etc.," Cayetano said. "Kahit na hindi lahat ng kandidato ay
ganito, ito ang dapat tutukan ng Comelec imbis na airtime."
"I understand the Comelec
wants candidates to limit spending in order to level the playing
field. But that is not what is happening on the ground. Instead of
spending on a 30-second ad, candidates will instead spend on sorties
where you have to purchase tickets for all your staff and yourself, to
book a hotel and to find transportation in the area. This actually
costs more,” Cayetano explained.
During an earlier joint
congressional oversight committee hearing on the automated election
system (JCOC-AES), Cayetano had already expressed dismay over Comelec
Resolution 9615 that limits national candidates to only 120 minutes of
airtime for television and 180 minutes for radio during the campaign
period. Meanwhile, local candidates are only allowed 60 minutes for
television and 90 minutes for radio. In the past, the agency limited
advertisements on a per-station basis.