Honasan: Who cares about ‘unli’ airtime?By Christian V. Esguerra, Norman Bordadora
Philippine Daily Inquirer
VILLASIS, Pangasinan—Who cares about unlimited airtime when you can’t even raise enough money to pay for a five-minute TV campaign ad?
Reelectionist Sen. Gregorio Honasan said Wednesday he was not at all bothered by the Supreme Court ruling stopping the Commission on Elections (Comelec) from implementing its rule setting a 120-minute limit on political advertisements.
His capability to put out such ads on TV or radio was already “limited” to begin with, said Honasan.
But Rep. Mitos Magsaysay, a fellow senatorial candidate in the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), said the high court ruling lifting the Comelec-imposed limits on campaign advertisements over the various media, was a definite victory for the administration candidates and the broadcast networks.
“Definitely, the administration wins here because they have the resources to spend for 120 minutes (of ads) per radio station, per network,” Magsaysay told reporters.
Victory for networks
“It’s a victory for networks because for sure, it would bring in big money for them,” she added in Filipino.
In her case, Magsaysay said she had used up only five minutes of the 120-minute limit. She said she paid P5 million for her ads at the network rate of P1 million for every one-minute political ad.
Honasan said he had not released any TV ad, apart from the one prepared by UNA for its nine senatorial candidates. With the campaign in its last three weeks, he said he was still raising money to finance TV ads.
He said his strategy was to “go directly to the people… to bring issues to the people and rely on their collective wisdom and judgment.”
“That’s why I usually ride the motorcycle,” he said.
Magsaysay opted not to solicit campaign contributions from “big businesses,” relying instead on “people I trust whom I know won’t ask for anything in return.”
No political debts
“I’ll just work within my resources so that in case I win, nobody can dictate on me, nobody can control me, nobody can tell me what to do because I don’t owe any big companies any favors,” she said.
Reelectionist Sen. Francis Escudero said the high tribunal’s status quo ante order on airtime limits was both a boon and a bane for voters.
“At least they would get to know their candidates but if you would observe the advertisements nowadays, candidates have been promising almost anything,” Escudero told a news conference at the Team PNoy coalition’s campaign headquarters on Wednesday.
He asked the media to look into which campaign promises of candidates from previous elections were fulfilled.
“It’s better to get information from either a debate or actual platforms being discussed wherein one could ask what is the basis of a promise and how it can be fulfilled,” Escudero said.
The senator earlier said the high court needed to clarify what would happen to winning candidates that went beyond the limits set by the Comelec if the Supreme Court were to issue a final ruling after the elections deciding that the Comelec was correct all along in setting airtime limits.
“This is just a status quo ante order, and the decision (on the legality of the Comelec airtime limits) has yet to be made. What will happen if hypothetically the Supreme Court decides in June and says the Comelec was correct?” he said.
“The candidates who won might face a disqualification case because there will be no question that they went beyond [the limits] set by the Comelec,” he added.