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Fewer excuses for pols to ‘sing and dance’

/ 07:21 AM February 17, 2019

Horrified at seeing candidates sing and shake their booty shamelessly on the campaign trail to endear themselves to voters?

A new law signed by President Rodrigo Duterte last week hopes to elevate political discourse over the candidates’ cheap “vote-for-me” antics by specifying bigger discounts on political advertisements on TV, radio and print.

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Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III said the law would benefit all candidates, especially those with fewer resources, as they would have a better chance of reaching a wider audience through mass media ads.

‘Elevate culture of politics’

“We want to elevate the culture of politics in the country, so that a candidate won’t be reduced to singing and dancing and would have an avenue to explain his platform, track record and personal accomplishments,” said Pimentel, the measure’s main proponent in the Senate.

The law, which amended the Fair Election Act, is expected to take effect within the election period. It would become effective 15 days after publication.

“The purpose of the law giving discounts to candidates is to make sure that they would be able to afford to place mass media ads, and more people would hear their programs for the government,” Pimentel said in a radio interview on Saturday.

With the law, he said, TV and radio stations cannot charge politicians rates higher than those charged for commercial advertisements.

TV stations would have to provide a 50-percent discount for the advertisements of registered political parties or their candidates, while radio stations need to reduce prevailing ad rates by 40 percent.

Print rate stays

For print media, the discount remains at 10 percent.

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Under the old law, media outlets were required to provide registered political parties and bona fide candidates a discounted rate of 30 percent for television, 20 percent for radio and 10 percent for print over the average rates charged during the first three quarters of the calendar year preceding the elections.

The new discounts will be computed from the average of published rates charged in the last three calendar years prior to the elections.

Media agencies may provide bigger discounts if they wish.

The new law also states that rates charged by the media outlets to political parties and candidates cannot be higher than what they charge nonpolitical advertisers, said Pimentel, who is seeking reelection as stalwart of the proadministration Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan.

The senator also said he agreed with calls for public and state schools to refrain from inviting candidates to graduations or other campus events.

He said this would prevent insinuations that public funds were being used to promote candidates.

Many other public figures and politicians who are not running in the May polls, such as half the number of senators, could be invited instead to school events and ceremonies, Pimentel said. —With a report from Julie M. Aurelio

See the bigger picture with the Inquirer's live in-depth coverage of the election here https://inq.ph/Election2019

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TAGS: 2019 elections, Aquilino Pimentel III, discounts on campaign ads, Fair Election Act, Rodrigo Duterte
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