Comelec case vs Pacquiao premature, no basis — election expert
A disqualification case filed by a senatorial candidate against Sarangani Representative Manny Pacquiao before the Commision on Elections (Comelec) is “premature” and may outside the jurisdiction of Philippine authorities, an election law expert said Monday.
Lawyer Romulo Macalintal made the comment after Senate aspirant Walden Bello filed a petition urging the poll body to take the necessary steps to implement the Fair Elections Act in light of the upcoming fight of Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley.
In his petition, Bello asked the election body to put the situation under “intense scrutiny.”
“In the crafting of the IRR, it may have been possible for the Commission to anticipate all situations where media coverage and advantage may be at issue,” said Bello.
“Such is the situation at hand in the case of the boxing bout between Mr. Pacquiao, a senatorial candidate. It then behooves the Commission to put the situation under intense scrutiny and study and for it to take action, under its mandate to enforce, administer election related laws and ensure that the regulations are appropriately implemented and followed,” he added.
But Macalintal said such move was premature because Bello was merely speculating that Pacquiao would exceed the authorized limit in print and broadcast ads.
“To date, no one could tell how many minutes could be treated as political ads because the fight and promotion have not even started yet,” Macalintal said in a text message.
Macalintal reiterated that there is no basis to disqualify Pacquiao.
“Furthermore, there is no legal ground to disqualify Pacquiao because a petition for disqualification is one which refers to a candidate’s lack of any of the qualifications required by the constitution or conviction of an election offense for violating election laws,” he added.
Macalintal said Pacquiao had all the qualifications for senator “so he cannot be disqualified on this ground.”
Macalintal added that even if there was any offense that Pacquiao would be violating under Philippine laws, it could not be imposed because the fight would be held in Las Vegas where Philippine courts have no jurisdiction.
“Even if there is any offense defined under Philippine laws, the same could not be imposed against Pacquiao because the fight will be held in Las Vegas City and our courts, under the doctrine of territoriality, have no jurisdiction over offenses committed by a person outside the territory of the Philippines, except if it involves national security of the country. For sure, the Pacquiao-Bradley fight is not covered by such exception,” Macalintal added.
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