Final: 120 minutes pol ads per TV station – SC

Carmela Fonbuena

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The Supreme Court – junking the appeal of the Solicitor General on behalf of the Comelec – maintains that the limits on political ads violate free expression and people's right to suffrage

MANILA, Philippines – Everyone who has a television or radio, brace yourself. It will rain political advertisements in the run-up to the 2016 presidential elections and, likely, in the elections that will follow.

The Supreme Court (SC) has ruled with finality that the maximum allowable airtime for political ads of national candidates is 120 minutes per television station and 180 minutes per radio station, junking the limits that the Commission of Elections (Comelec) imposed during the 2013 polls.

In the last midterm elections, the poll body limited candidates for national positions to buying only a total of 120 minutes of political ads in all TV stations and 180 minutes in all radio stations.

The limits were questioned in separate petitions filed by GMA Network Incorporated, ABC Development Corporation, Manila Broadcasting Company Incorporated, the Kapisanan ng mga Broadcaster ng Pilipinas, and ABS-CBN.


The SC said in September that the change from the previous regulation of 120 minutes “per station” to “all stations” was arbitrary. It also violated freedom of expression, speech, and of the press and the people’s right to suffrage, the court said. (READ: SC junks Comelec limits on airtime of political ads)


This was appealed by the Office of the Solicitor General on behalf of the Comelec, which earlier told the court that when it issued a resolution in 2013 to put a cap on political ads, it was only reverting to the original interpretation of limits under the Fair Election Act of 2001

That original rule was interpreted liberally by Comelec under Chairman Benjamin Abalos in 2004, in time for the bid of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who had appointed him to the post. So in the 2004, 2007, and 2010 elections, candidates for national posts were each allowed to each buy a maximum of 120 minutes per TV station and 180 minutes per radio.

In its ruling dated October 22 and made public Wednesday, November 5, the SC upheld its earlier decision.


“The court resolved to deny with finality the said motion for reconsideration as the basic issues raised therein have been passed upon by this court and no substantial arguments were presented to warrant the reversal of the questioned decision,” the ruling read.

The unanimous ruling of the court makes permanent the restraining order on Section 9 of Comelec Resolution No. 9615, as amended by Resolution No. 9631. The said section sets the airtime cap.

In September, the court sustained the rest of the Comelec resolution that were questioned. One of them was the “provision of the right to reply is reasonable under the circumstances.”


There was a time when political advertising was not allowed in the Philippines. The ban was only lifted in the 2001 senatorial elections. TV advertising tool has since proven to be a powerful influence among voters. 

About 90% of Filipino households have access to TV. –

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