Comelec: Negative pol ads allowed by law

Pia Gutierrez, ABS-CBN News

Children in political ads not new, says Jimenez

MANILA - The Commission on Elections (Comelec) sees nothing wrong with the airing of the controversial negative ads about Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte on television Thursday evening.

Speaking to reporters Friday morning, Comelec spokesman James Jimenez explained that airing of political ads against a candidate is not against the law.

"Partisan political activity is defined specifically as any activity which is in favor of or against a candidate. So an ad can be for someone or against someone," Jimenez said.

Television ads targeting leading presidential candidate Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte caused an uproar in social media.

The ad, paid for by Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, showed children reacting to some of Duterte's controversial remarks and acts, including his cursing of Pope Francis and his comment about the rape-slay of an Australian missionary.

According to Jimenez, the poll body does not have the power to censor the content of political ads.

The Comelec can only to monitor the duration of the ad on a per station basis, he said.

"This should not be surprising. Sa dinami-dami ng mga eleksyon na pinagdaanan natin, ang dami-dami nating nakikita na mga negative ads talaga. As far as the actors are concerned, as far as what's shown is concerned, I don't think there are new categories of actors, children, old people, lahat yan nagamit na sa mga political ads ng lahat ng kandidato yata," said Jimenez.

The Movie and Television Review and Classification Board earlier said that it is Comelec which has sole jurisdiction to regulate political ads under the Fair Elections Act.


In a statement, ABS-CBN said it had nothing to do with the production of the political ad, and that it was "duty bound to air a legitimate ad."

"The controversial political advertisement being talked about in social media, which aired on ABS-CBN, was produced and paid for by Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV. Prior to the airing, ABS-CBN’s ethics committee reviewed the content of the material, which complies with the requirements of pertinent election laws," the company said.

ABS-CBN pointed out that Comelec guidelines prohibit radio and television stations from discriminating against any candidate or political party in the sale of air time.

"By airing the said commercial, ABS-CBN is being consistent with COMELEC guidelines, which prohibit radio or television stations to discriminate in the sale of air time against any political party or candidate. We are duty bound to air a legitimate ad."


Trillanes, meanwhile, defended the use of children in the TV ad, saying the youth should be part of the Filipino voters' consideration in choosing the country's next leader.

"The truth definitely hurts," said Trillanes, who previously said that Duterte becoming a president spells disaster for the Philippines.

"The children were purposely used to hammer the message that they should always be part of the consideration in our choice of leaders of the country not only because it is for their future but also because they will emulate these leaders. Besides, the children were shown in a positive light and all pertinent laws were strictly followed," he said.

Trillanes, who is running for vice president, went on to criticize the supporters of Duterte who supposedly made light of the Davao City mayor's jokes about rape and his own infidelity.

"But wait, Dutertards are suddenly concerned about children? Yet they laugh every time Duterte cusses and jokes about his penis and rape not realizing that children are listening too? Such hypocrisy, right? Now, that's what the ad is all about too," the senator said.