Press Release
March 15, 2013

Cayetano files Petition-In-Intervention
on Comelec resolution on airtime restriction

Says airtime restriction unconstitutional and anti-poor

"Putting a limit on the advertising time of a candidate is unconstitutional. It limits the people's right to information," This was the statement of Senator Alan Cayetano today as he filed a Petition-In-Intervention at the Supreme Court (SC) regarding the Commission on Elections' (Comelec) ruling on the time limit for candidate advertisements.


"Comelec cannot issue a rule that is outside the wisdom of the intent of the law," Cayetano said. "The Fair Election Act (R.A. 9006) in this case, intends for the restriction to be on a per station basis. Comelec now goes outside that by resolving to restrict airtime aggregately."

The senator had long been urging the Comelec to reconsider its ruling, saying that the agency should democratize campaigning rather than put limits to it. While Cayetano said he recognized the rationale behind Comelec's resolution, he lamented that the problem lies in its application.

"The goal was to equalize advertising opportunities among candidates and also to control their spending. But limiting advertising airtime actually has the opposite effect," he said.

Cayetano also noted that the resolution "smacks of prior restraint" - a clear affront to the freedom of speech or expression.


The senator said that limiting the advertising airtime, particularly for radio, deprives the masses of much-needed information about their candidates.

"With 180 minutes for all radio stations nationwide, that means candidates only have four 30-second spots for 80 provinces. Considering that we would also need to allot a great percentage of the 180 minutes to national issues, how will we get our message to our voters in the provinces and our stand on local issues with that limited amount of time?" he questioned.

Cayetano is currently running for reelection under a pro-poor platform that seeks to address the concerns of every Filipino family related to PTK: Presyo, Trabaho, Kita


Cayetano added that with media being the most effective and most cost-efficient way to inform voters about their candidates, the aim of lessening the spending of candidates by limiting or regulating air time is at the expense of lessening voters' opportunities to know their candidates more in order to vote wisely.

"I am not merely pushing for more leeway for candidates to advertise themselves during the campaign, I am fighting for the right of the people to be informed and to make the right choice when they vote. I am pushing for a more mature system of elections where in leveling the playing field means we focus more on enhancing people participation rather than increasing regulations," Cayetano stressed.


Cayetano also said that instead of focusing on limiting advertising time, the Comelec should focus on monitoring candidates' campaign spending and the source of the funds used to advertise. "Maraming mga taong gumagamit ng pera na pang-advertise na nagmula sa illegal na paraan - sa gambling, smuggling, etc.," Cayetano said. "Kahit na hindi lahat ng kandidato ay ganito, ito ang dapat tutukan ng Comelec imbis na airtime."


The Petition-in-Intervention seeks to annul or modify Section 9 (a) of Comelec Resolution No. 9615 for having been issued with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. It seeks the issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) and/or a writ of preliminary injunction to enjoin Comelec from implementing and enforcing the said provision.

During an earlier Joint Congressional Oversight Committee hearing on the Automated Election System (JCOC-AES), Cayetano had already expressed dismay over the resolution that limits national candidates to only 120 minutes of airtime for television and 180 minutes for radio during the campaign period. Meanwhile, local candidates are only allowed 60 minutes for television and 90 minutes for radio. In the past, the agency limited advertisements on a per-station basis.

In his Petition-In-Intervention Cayetano noted that: (1) Comelec committed grave abuse of discretion in limiting the broadcast advertisements of national candidates to an aggregate of 180 and 120 minutes; (2) Comelec exceeded its rule-making powers and usurped the power granted solely to Congress; (3) Comelec's resolution violated freedom of speech, of the press and of expression; and (4) Comelec stifles the people's right to be informed on matters of public concern.

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