Comelec to look into possible campaign rules violations in Pacquiao’s boxing match in April

By , on February 19, 2016

Timothy Bradley and Manny Pacquiao. (Photo by Chris Farina / Manny Pacquiao official Facebook page)
Timothy Bradley and Manny Pacquiao. (Photo by Chris Farina / Manny Pacquiao’s official Facebook page)

MANILA—The Commission on Elections (Comelec) will look into possible violations of campaign rules during the boxing fight of senatorial aspirant and boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao and American boxer Timothy Bradley on April 10 (Manila time).

According to Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista they are examining details of the event and its coverage that are against the provisions of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) on the Fair Elections Act.

“We have to look at the Fair Elections Act as well as rules on campaign expenses. These are the related issues,” he said in an interview.

But, Bautista noted that in the event that violations are committed, the commission cannot motu proprio file a case, a complainant should initiate it.

“We might be faulted on ‘why are we picking on him?’ We all know that he is a national figure and he has brought pride and glory to the country. It would be better if there is a complaint if there is anyone who thinks that the laws are being violated,” the poll body chief explained.

Comelec Resolution No. 10049 does not allow “to show, display, or exhibit publicly in a theatre, through a television station, or any public forum any movie, cinematography or documentary, including concert or any type of performance portraying the life or biography of a candidate, or in which a character is portrayed by an actor or media personality, who is himself or herself a candidate”.

Likewise, it is prohibited “for any radio, television, cable television station, announcer or broadcaster to allow the scheduling of any program or permit any sponsor to manifestly favor or oppose any candidate or party by unduly or repeatedly referring to or unnecessarily mentioning his name, including said candidate or party”.

At the same time, the poll body is concerned on how it will count the Pacquiao fight as a broadcast election propaganda material of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) senatorial bet.

Comelec rules provide that candidates and registered political parties for a national elective position are allowed not more than a total of 120 minutes of television advertising, on a per station basis, whether appearing on national, regional, or local, free or cable television, and 180 minutes of radio advertising, on a per station basis, whether airing on national, regional, or local radio, whether by purchase or donation.

Violation of campaign rules and regulations is tantamount to an election offense, which carries the penalty of one to six year imprisonment as well as disqualification from holding public office and removal of right to vote.

Another senatorial candidate, Walden Bello urged Pacquiao to postpone his scheduled boxing bout until after the May 9 national polls, noting that the event would give Pacquiao “tremendous advantage” against his rivals since it have the usual mass media coverage.

The match will be held at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.