Rudolph Jularbal, a lawyer for the KBP told Comelec commissioners in a public hearing Thursday that the requirement of “prior notice” would violate the constitutionally protected right of freedom of expression.
But Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. insisted that the policy was necessary to ensure that the Comelec would be able to determine whether the interviews were “bona fide” news or the candidates were campaigning.
“We are still taking the position that even prior notice…is unconstitutional,” Jularbal told the election commissioners.
“What we are pointing out, Your Honor, is that this has a chilling effect on the media….considering that prior approval or prior notice is required in order for the news report to be considered bona fide,” Jularbal said.
Brillantes said that TV and radio stations should notify the Comelec so that it could monitor interviews with candidates.
“What’s so unconstitutional about you notifying us? How do we monitor local radio stations calling only a single candidate every day. How do we know if you are not going to notify us that there is going to be such an interview to be done,” Brillantes asked.
“Do you expect the commission to be monitoring all radio stations all over the country 24/7?” he added.
Jularbal replied that ultimately the actions of the media would be “subject to the scrutiny” of the Comelec.
“That’s right. (But), how will we know if we don’t even know that you are airing something because you don’t want to notify us. How can we monitor what you are doing?” Brillantes replied.
“Notice is informative. That’s just an FYI and yet you still don’t like it. There seems to be a distrust in the implementation of our fair election laws. You are thinking of unconstitutionality when what we are asking is notice. What is wrong with notice?” he said.
“Why do you interpret it in the most negative manner,” Brillantes added.
Right to reply
Jularbal also insisted that the so-called right to reply of candidates who had been slighted by their rivals in interviews was likewise unconstitutional.
Brillantes replied: “The right to reply is provided for by the Constitution to the Comelec. Do you mean to say the Constitution is unconstitutional?”
Jularbal said the Comelec was not the proper venue to determine the constitutionality of the right to reply and instead suggested that the commission set a “prescriptive period” for complaints for candidates who feel slighted in interviews.
Brillantes said the Comelec would take up Jularbal’s suggestion during its full session set for Thursday afternoon.
Talking to reporters after the hearing, Brillantes said the Comelec would revise its resolution on political ads and it was up for discussion by the afternoon session.
Clarifications will be announced next week, he said.