'Villar, Noynoy exceed air time limits'

By Maria Althea Teves, abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak

Posted at Mar 26 2010 10:23 AM | Updated as of Mar 27 2010 08:42 AM

MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) - It’s still 6 weeks away from the May 10 national elections, but presidential candidates Manuel Villar Jr. and Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III have already exceeded the air time allowed by law, according to AGB Nielsen Media Research.

Each national candidate is allowed only 120 minutes of advertising air time per TV network. AGB Nielsen's report covered the first month of the official campaign period.

Table of air time: February 9 to March 24

(Maximum allowable airtime: 120 minutes per candidate per TV station)




Sen. Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III (Liberal Party)

129 minutes

118 minutes

Former president Joseph Estrada (Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino)

77.5 minutes

65 minutes

Sen. Richard "Dick" Gordon (Bagumbayan)

52 minutes

43 minutes

Gilberto Teodoro Jr. (LAKAS-KAMPI CMD)

3.5 minutes

4 minutes

Evangelist Eddie Villanueva (Bangon Pilipinas Party)

3.5 minutes

1 minutes

Sen. Manuel "Manny" Villar Jr (Nationalista Party)

122.5 minutes

128.25 minutes

Presented by Pera at Pulitika, AGB Nielsen

The AGB Nielsen report was presented on Friday morning by the Pera at Pulitika (PaP) consortium, which monitors the candidates’ adherence to campaign finance laws.

LP, NP deny report

The AGB Nielsen only counted the air time of ads directly endorsing the presidential candidates, according to PaP consortium head Roberto Cadiz. They did not include the ads where entire slates were endorsed and the ads where the presidential candidates were endorsing other bets.

“We want to play it safe,” Cadiz told abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak.

The camps of the Liberal Party and the Nationalista Party both denied violating their ad limits.

“Kami ay sumusunod sa batas, sumusunod kami sa pagbilang niyan (We abide by the law. We follow the limits),” Villar said in a statement e-mailed to abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak by NP spokesman Gilbert Remulla.

LP spokesman Edwin Lacierda said AGB Nielsen Media Research should explain how it calculated the air time.

“Our internal media monitoring shows that we have not exceeded our air time per network. You are provided also the minutes of the political party,” he said in a phone interview. (Read: Villar, Noynoy 'creatively' skirting advertising limits)

LP campaign manager Butch Abad said Aquino is using the party’s allowable air time. “The LP may allow its candidates to use this,” he said.

“The reports may give the wrong impression in the minds of the public. I’d like to believe that there was inadvertent mistake in the counting of our TV airtime, perhaps by adding the NP TV ads in the count,” Villar added.

Lacierda said they have also asked the TV networks to issue them "a certificate saying we have not exceeded our air time limits."

Lacierda said the report will not stop them from airing Aquino’s ads. “We will still be airing our political ads. We will target strategic placements. We will not violate the law. We are consulting with our legal team,” Lacierda said.

Jail for candidates, network officials

This is not the first national elections where AGB Nielsen reported that candidates are exceeding the allowable air time. However, a case is yet to be filed against anyone.

Cadiz said this violation is a ground for disqualification. It’s easy to file a case, too. Any citizen can initiate the complaint.

The Commission on Elections has the power to immediately disqualify a candidate if he or she is found to be violating election laws. The candidate may also face up to 6 years in jail, according to Section 264 of the Omnibus Election Code.

But Cadiz said the time it will take the courts to rule on a case is another matter. “How long would it take before a candidate is disqualified? Your guess is as good as ours,” he said.

Cadiz also warned officials of TV networks that they may also be made liable for allowing candidates to exceed their allowable air time.

Citing corporate law, Cadiz said that those who signed contracts with respective political parties or candidates would be liable for an election offense. He said they may also face a jail term of up to 6 years. –with reports from Carmela Fonbuena, abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak