MANILA, Philippines - Sen. Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III is seeking a more level playing field in the 2013 elections by urging the Commission on Elections to clarify how much air time each national candidate is allowed to get for his campaign ads.
In a statement, Pimentel urged the Comelec to issue a resolution interpreting two critical provisions of the Fair Election Practices Act (RA 9006), namely 6.2. (a) and (b) which limit national candidates to 120 minutes for TV and 180 minutes for radio ads; and local candidates to 60 minutes TV and 90 minutes radio ad times, respectively.
The senator, who is running for re-election next year, said the provisions should be interpreted as the "total media time and not per TV station or per radio station time" allotted to the candidates. At present the provisions are interpreted to mean total media time per TV and radio station per candidate.
Pimentel said that under the present system, national candidates who have more money can simply swamp TV and radio shows with paid campaign ads.
"Of course, those who have more money can afford to have more advertisements and exposure on television and radios, while candidates who have less money cannot afford the high prices of advertisements," he said.
He added: "Given Comelec's interpretation which is against the spirit of the law, it is as if there is actually no limit at all."
Pimentel said candidates should also not be allowed to endorse other candidates including party-lists just to circumvent the total media exposure rule.