Morato seeks dismissal of Comelec raps
Former Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) Director Manuel Morato has asked a Quezon City court to dismiss the electioneering charges filed against him by the Commission on Elections (Comelec), saying that they were “nothing but pure harassment and political persecution.”
In a 20-page motion, Morato also asserted the charges were meant to curtail his “freedom of speech and expression, or of the press, guaranteed under the Bill of Rights available even to members of the civil service whose public positions should not inhibit them from the exercise of their rights and duties as citizens.”
The Comelec had earlier ruled that as a political appointee, Morato was not covered by the electioneering ban.
However, “as a media person, his acts were covered by Republic Act No. 9006, or the Fair Elections Act, in relation to the Omnibus Election Code,” said the Comelec in a May 9 resolution.
On July 20, the Comelec filed multiple charges of violation of RA 9006 against Morato for allegedly using several episodes of his public affairs television program, “Dial M,” to campaign for the administration candidate, former Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro, in the 2010 presidential election.
The poll body earlier junked a motion for reconsideration filed by Morato.
Morato had disputed the Comelec order on the filing of the 2010 presidential polls-related cases against him, asserting that “there is no clear line dividing press freedom and the ban on electioneering.”
In his motion, he also told the court there was “no probable cause for the filing of the election offenses. He criticized the prosecution’s failure to even authenticate the tapes, relying on mere hearsay about what occurred in his program.
Morato argued that the display of Teodoro’s campaign paraphernalia in one episode of “Dial M” was not a violation of election laws.
Earlier, in a text message to the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Morato claimed the electioneering charges were “actually initiated by current PCSO Chair Margie Juico and her husband Philip, through Bonifacio Alentajan, the latter’s lawyer at the Philippine Sports Commission.”
Juico has repeatedly denied Morato’s allegations against her and her husband. Jerry E. Esplanada