Press Release
February 11, 2010

Villar backs celebs' right to endorse bet

Nacionalista Party (NP) standard-bearer Manny Villar said the order of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for celebrity endorsers of political candidates to go on leave immediately may be unfair to artists or entertainers and may be a suppression of their rights to choose.

"Karapatan ng mga artista iyon, Filipino rin kasi sila at mga botante din iyan, may karapatan silang mamili ng kandidato nila. Bakit naman natin sisikilin ang kanilang karapatan na pumili ng kanilang magugustuhan at sabihin ang gusto nila?" said Villar during an interview yesterday in Laguna.

Republic Act 9006 or the Fair Elections Act prohibits actors from making public appearances once they have endorsed or volunteered for a candidate during the campaign period.

Section 6.6 of the law reads: "Any mass media columnist, commentator, announcer, reporter, on-air correspondent or personality who is a candidate for any elective public office or is a campaign volunteer for or employed or retained in any capacity by any candidate or political party shall be deemed resigned, if so required by [his] employer, or shall take a leave of absence from his/her work as such during the campaign period."

The section also prohibits a media practitioner who is an official of a political party or a member of the campaign staff of a candidate or political party from using his time or space to favor any candidate or political party. Violation is considered an election offense and is punishable by law.

Villar said the timing of the announcement of the restriction and sanctions was intriguing.

The NP standard-bearer also said that he cannot understand why critics are making a big issue of his celebrity endorsers.

"Ako naman ay nagtataka noong may mag-endorso sa akin ay parating nagiging issue. Noong maraming nag-eendorso sa ibang kandidato, hindi naman napapag-usapan iyan. Bakit naman mali sa akin mag-endorso, hindi mali mag-endorso sa iba. Iyon lang naman ay tampo lang," the former Senate president said.

He added that during the last quarter of last year, Liberal Party's standard-bearer also released a television ad with an all-star cast. "Noong may mag-endorso sa akin na mga tatlo o apat, biglang dumami na ang nagtatanong sa akin. Ang mga nag-eendorso sa akin ay konti lang. Alam mo na kung sino ang mas marami, may mga sulo pa nga."

Villar said Dolphy, Willie Revillame and Michael V and Sarah Geronimo chose to endorse him not for monetary reasons but because they have a common denominator--their poor origins.

"Iyan ang kadahilanan kung bakit nagkakaintindihan kaming lahat--May pinagsamahan naman kami at may mabuting dahilan kung bakit sila ay kasama ko," he said.

He said whatever happens, whether he wins or loses, he will always be one with them even after the election.

"In time, they will be my friends, you'll see. Our countrymen will see how we remain together even after elections," he said.

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