Monday, February 15, 2010

Comelec backtracks on celeb endorsers

February 16, 2010 01:20:00
Leila Salaverria
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—Kris Aquino, Willie Revillame and Sarah Geronimo may now heave sighs of relief after the Commission on Elections (Comelec) en banc Monday said it would not require celebrity endorsers, broadcasters and columnists to resign or go on leave from their media outfits for the duration of the campaign for the May polls.
The Comelec is leaving it up to the media outfits if they want their stars, broadcasters or columnists who endorse candidates to take some time off during the election season, according to Election Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal.
At the same time, media personalities should make sure that they are not using their shows to campaign for a candidate, Larrazabal said.
“As clearly laid out in the law, there is no requirement from the Comelec for a particular media practitioner to resign or take a leave. The discretion is left to the network or the person involved,” he said at a press conference.
Larrazabal added that the media personalities “must also be aware that they should not use the airtime or media space to promote the candidacy of a particular person or a particular party.”
The Comelec en banc, which met Monday morning, handed down this policy after a tempest was raised when the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) said that media personalities should either resign or go on leave if they are endorsing a candidate or are part of a candidate’s campaign.
The PPCRV cited Section 6 (6.6) of the Fair Election Act or Republic Act No. 9006.
Edu Manzano, an administration vice presidential candidate, asked the Comelec to allow celebrity endorsers to work during the campaign period.
The contested provision 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 their employer, or shall take a leave of absence from his/her work as such during the campaign period:
“Provided, that any media practitioner who is an official of a political party or a member of the campaign staff of a candidate or political party shall not use his/her time or space to favor any candidate or political party.”
The Comelec law department head, Ferdinand Rafanan, agreed with the PPCRV’s interpretation. He said last week that the poll body was prepared to either ask media personalities who are part of a politician’s campaign to take a leave from work, or compel their employers to make them take some time off.
Larrazabal on Monday said it was the Comelec en banc that makes the policies of the poll body, and not one person.
“Policies are decided and made by the commission en banc … The en banc just read the law and the law is clear,” he said.
The PPCRV’s interpretation of the Fair Election Act was questioned by political parties and celebrities, who challenged it by saying that it was unfair because it would deprive them of livelihood or violate their freedom of expression.
Following the PPCRV’s interpretation, GMA network asked its employees endorsing candidates to go on leave, while ABS-CBN had a contrary reaction and said it was not requiring its stars to temporarily leave their shows.
Major political parties have used numerous celebrity endorsers in their sorties and advertisements to boost their profile.
The Liberal Party, for instance, showcased top stars of ABS-CBN and GMA 7 in the first TV advertisement of its standard-bearer, Sen. Benigno Aquino III. The stars included TV host and actress Kris Aquino, the senator’s sister, and singer-actress Regine Velasquez.
The Nacionalista Party has also been getting stars for its campaign. Among the endorsers of the party’s standard-bearer, Sen. Manuel Villar, are Dolphy, TV host Willie Revillame and singer-actress Sarah Geronimo.


1 comment:

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