Air-time limit on political ads declared unconstitutional
MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court struck down the air time limit on political advertisements, which the Commission on Elections has created supposedly for the 2010 elections.
High court’s Public Information Office Chief, Theodore Te said the Court en banc ruled to “partially” grant the petitions of GMA Network Incorporated, the Manila Broadcasting Company Incorporated, ABS-CBN, ABC Corporation-TV5 and the Kapisanan ng mga Broadcaster ng Pilipinas against the said resolution issued by the poll body.
Te said the high court declared as unconstitutional Section 9 (a) of Resolution No. 9615 as amended by Resolution No. 9631 and made permanent the restraining order it issued last April, 2013.
Section 9 of the rule provides that candidates for national position may only run a total of 120 minutes in TV advertising and 180 minutes in radio advertising contrary to the former rule of per network. For local candidates, the resolution imposes a limit of 60 minutes in all television networks and 90 minutes in all radio stations.
In striking down the rule, the high court said it is in violation of the freedom of the expression, speech and the press.
The high court also said it violated the people’s right to suffrage while it also noted the absence of prior hearing before the adoption of the resolution.
Te said the Court sustained the other provisions of the assailed resolution since “it did not impose an unreasonable burden on the broadcast industry and the provision of the right to reply is reasonable under the circumstances.”
It will be recalled that the poll body passed the assailed resolution in January last year followed a month later by Resolution 9631 to keep the advertisement cap.
In coming up with the said resolution, the Comelec cited the original interpretation of Republic Act 9006 or the Fair Election Act of 2001 which limited campaign ads in television to 120 minutes for the entire campaign period though the law is vague on whether the time limit applied to all television stations nationwide or per station or network.
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