Comelec ‘airtime rule’ should be enforced strictly, says Escudero
MANILA, Philippines – The controversial “airtime rule” of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for the upcoming May 2013 midterm elections should be “enforced strictly, equally, and consistently,” Senator Francis Escudero said Monday
“While we fully support the Comelec in its ruling to shorten the airtime that a political candidate may buy for campaign ads, it must also make sure that this rule is enforced strictly and without favor,” Escudero said in a statement.
Under Comelec Resolution 9615, which details the rules and guidelines for the campaign period, candidates have a total of 120 minutes for television advertisement and 180 minutes for radio regardless of broadcast station.
GMA Network Inc and the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster sa Pilipinas (KBP) had earlier appealed to the poll body to revert to the old rule which allows 120 minutes per television station and 180 minutes per radio station.
During an en banc public hearing held by the Comelec to hear the arguments of GMA and KBP, Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes questioned why the media networks were against the new rule when candidates themselves were not complaining.
The media networks argued that the new rule will severely limit the exposure of the candidates to the public making it harder for them to allow explaining their platform to the public.
Brillantes argued that the new rule’s objective was to level the playing field because rich candidates were able to buy more airtime from the media networks.
Escudero, who is running for reelection in the Senate, agreed with the resolution and said “leveling the playing field means no one gets undue advantage over the others just because he or she has more money to spend for advertising.”
“But the rule will only work if the Comelec makes sure that it is enforced strictly, equally, and consistently,” Escudero said.
He also encouraged the Comelec to look at online ads which he said was a fast growing medium.
“We cannot ignore the size and reach of the cyber universe, and it continues to grow every day. With its reach, the Internet must be closely monitored as well,” Escudero said.
Brillantes had previously stated that it was the first time they imposed regulations for the internet and so this would likely need further tweaking if they see any abuses. – Matikas Santos, INQUIRER.net
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