SC nixes airtime limits on political ads

By Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 02 2014 04:06 PM | Updated as of Sep 03 2014 07:44 AM

MANILA - The Supreme Court (SC) has unanimously declared as unconstitutional the Commission on Elections' (Comelec) airtime limits on political advertisements.

The high court cited the following grounds in its decision striking down Sec 9 (a) of Comelec Resolution no. 9615, dated Jan. 15, 2013, as amended by Resolution No. 9631, dated Feb. 1, 2013, which imposed the limits:

(a) the arbitrary manner by which Comelec changed the previous regulation from "per station" to "aggregate total" per candidate;
(b) the violation of freedom of expression, speech and of the press;
(c) the violation of the people's right to suffrage; and
(d) the absence of prior hearing before adoption of the policy.

Under the assailed resolutions, the following airtime caps were imposed by the poll body:

For Candidates/Registered Political parties for a National Elective PositionNot more than an aggregate total of one hundred (120) minutes of television advertising, whether appearing on national, regional, or local, free or cable television, and one hundred eighty (180) minutes of radio advertising, whether airing on national, regional, or local radio, whether by purchase or donation.

For Candidates/Registered Political parties for a Local Elective Position Not more than an aggregate total of sixty (60) minutes of television advertising, whether appearing on national, regional, or local, free or cable television, and ninety (90) minutes of radio advertising, whether airing on national, regional, or local radio, whether by purchase or donation.

The high court made permanent the temporary restraining order it issued in favor of four separate petitions, among them the plea filed by the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) and ABS-CBN Broadcasting Company.