Senators say only rich candidates will benefit from ‘no-airtime-limits ruling’


Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III. EDWIN BACASMAS

MANILA, Philippines—Senators expressed fears on Tuesday that the Supreme Court’s decision to stop the implementation of airtime limits on political advertisements on television and radio would be advantageous only to rich candidates.

“Bad news. Lamang na naman ang may maraming pera (The candidates who have more money have the edge),” re-electionist Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III said in a text message.

Another re-electionist senator, Francis “Chiz” Escudero, aired the same sentiment though he acknowledged that removing the air limits  would give additional income for n smaller TV and radio stations.

“This will definitely be a boost, revenue wise, for the smaller TV and radio stations during this campaign season. However, this ruling will definitely also give an advantage and boost to the richer candidates who can more easily place more ads compared to candidates with less money like us,”  Escudero said in a separate text message.

Both Pimentel and Escudero are running under Team PNoy.

Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero. EDWIN BACASMAS

But for Senator Gringo Honasan, who is running under the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), the decision had no effect on  him.

“It doesn’t affect us because if you notice, wala naman akong TV ads aside from the UNA, yung common TV ad namin na itinigil na. So walang epekto sa amin yon,” Honasan said in a phone interview.

After all, he said, the cap on airtime has not been effectively enforced.

Honasan, also chairman of  the Senate committee on public information,  agreed  though that lifting  the  airtime limits  would  be  favorable to  only few  rich candidates.

“Obviously. Dahil kung taasan mo ang threshold, ibig sabihin niya ay ang makakalamang ‘yung may pambayad (Because of you raise the threshold, that means the ones who will have an edge are those with money),” he said responding to a question.

“Pero ayaw ko namang palabasin na naiinggit tayo or nagrereklamo. Pero dinisisyunan ng Korte Suprema yan (But I don’t want to make it appear as if I’m envious or complaining. The Supreme Court has already decided on that). As far as I am concerned, it doesn’t affect us because nagiipon pa kami ng pambayad sa (we’re saving up to pay for) infomercial namin sa TV ad,” he added.

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