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MANILA, Philippines (Update 2) - It's the final weekend before the official campaign period starts on February 12. And it looks like senatorial candidates are making most of their exposure on "free" TV before the Commission on Elections (Comelec) begins to ban them.
As opposed to political ads where bets have to pay hundreds of thousands per spot, these shows are considered "free' TV. The selection of guests is entirely the prerogative of the show's producers.
The candidates' exposure on TV before February 12 will not be counted either against their 120-minute campaign airtime limit.
Rappler spotted the following candidates on various shows on major networks ABS-CBN and GMA on Saturday and Sunday, February 9-10. It's part of Rappler's continuing monitoring of media campaigns.
These guestings may not be allowed anymore starting February 12. Due to a ruling by the Supreme Court, the Comelec cannot control premature campaigning, but the poll body vowed to strictly implement Comelec Resolution 9615, the implementing rules of the Fair Elections Act.
Comelec has been firm on the 120-minute aggreggate limit per senatorial candidate on political advertisements. TV networks have questioned this before the Supreme Court.
There are at least 2 provisions in the Comelec resolution that cover TV and radio guestings.
Section 7 of the resolution lists biographies among prohibited forms of election propaganda -- "to show, display or exhibit publicly in a theater, television station, or any public forum any movie, cinematography or documentary portraying the life or biography of a candidate, or in which a character is portrayed by an actor or media personality who is himself a candidate."
The Comelec resolution says the appearances of senatorial bets are only allowed in "bona fide" programs like news. But there's still a debate on what "bona fide" covers.
Section 9 initially required broadcast stations to seek "prior approval" from Comelec "to determine whether the appearance or guesting in a program is bona fide." The poll body has modified this, however, to require the networks to just notify the Comelec of these guestings so they can be properly classified as propaganda or legitimate news. - Rappler.com
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