First, this means that the live broadcast has to comply within the 120-minute per station broadcast limitation. This means Pacquiao has to account the duration of his fight against his advertisement time allocation. If Pacquaio’s match would last for the full 12 rounds with 3 minutes each, that would only be 36 minutes, excluding the breaks in between. With a mindful editing and timing, the time limit would not really be a problem.
Second, it has to comply with campaign finance regulations. To give us a working figure, let us use the reported 2015 published rate cards of the country’s biggest networks which averaged at P841,000 per 30 seconds. A 36-minute boxing match would have an approximate value of P60.55 million. Said amount can well be accommodated within his campaign expenditure limit of P167,218,188 (55,739,396 local and overseas voters x P3).
However, this arrangement is complicated by the fact that, as an industry practice, it is the broadcasting TV network that pays for the exclusive broadcast rights of a boxing match.
If shown to specifically benefit a candidate, the arrangement would be tantamount to an “electoral contribution,” which is defined in Section 94 of the Omnibus Election Code as any “gift, donation, subscription…or anything of value…made for the purpose of influencing the results of the elections,”with the TV network assuming the role of a “contributor.”
The complication comes from Section 95 (d) of the Omnibus Election Code which actually prohibits TV networks, being franchise holders, from becoming contributors to candidates.
Can Pacquiao be disqualified?
Another possible complication is the specific prohibition on the holding of boxing bouts in Section 97 of the Omnibus Election Code, which is also a ground for disqualification under Section 68, to wit:
Section 97. Prohibited raising of funds. It shall be unlawful for any person to hold...boxing bouts…for the support of any candidate from the commencement of the election period up to and including election day…
Section 68. Disqualifications. Any candidate…found by the Commission of having...solicited, received, or made any contribution prohibited under Sections…95, 96, 97 and 104...shall be disqualified from continuing as a candidate, or if he has been elected, from holding the office.
Given these, I am interested to know how Pacquiao’s legal team can reason their way out of these complications. Either his decisions on scheduling this fight have not been adequately studied by his legal team, or his campaign strategy has gone wrong.
Lastly, I must note that Pacquiao filed his certificate of candidacy (COC) on October 16, 2015. Meanwhile, in the December 30, 2015, article of the Los Angeles Times, Bob Arum, Pacquiao’s promoter, was quoted to have said that “the Pacquiao-Bradley deal has been verbally agreed upon by both fighters, and that contracts are being sent.”
This means that when Pacquiao contractually agreed to his match with Bradley, he had already filed his COC for senator and he was expected to know the dates of the election and of the commencement of the election period. Under these circumstances, it is difficult to ascribe good faith on the part of the boxing champ. It raises suspicion that the choice of the match’s date was rather politically calculated. – Rappler.com
Emil Marañon III is an election lawyer who served as chief of staff of recently retired Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. He is currently studying Human Rights, Conflict and Justice at SOAS, University of London, as a Chevening scholar.