THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) may opt to prevent the airing or restrict the promotional advertisement of the coming fight of senatorial candidate and Sarangani Rep. Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao.
Comelec spokesman Director James Jimenez on Monday disclosed that a similar ruling was adopted by the Comelec in 2007 or nine years ago when Pacquiao fought Mexican boxer Jorge Solis a month before the May 2007 mid-term elections.
Pacquiao was running for mayor in his hometown of Gen. Santos City but lost to then-incumbent Mayor Darlene Antonio Custodio.
“We are talking of possibilities. It is possible that what happened in 2007 will be repeated, but it is also possible that it won’t,” Jimenez said in Filipino.
He pointed out though that there are substantial differences between 2007 and the present because Pacquiao is now running for a national position and “different sets of circumstances, obviously, might have different solutions.”
“It was 2007 but it does not necessarily bind this commission and this commission will have to come up with its own set of rules and justifications on how it would treat this case,” Jimenez said.
Last week, former Bayan party-list Rep. Walden Bello, also a senatorial candidate in the May 2016 polls, filed a formal petition asking the Comelec to come up with a clear position and to take necessary action if election laws would be violated by Pacquiao in his coming fight with America boxer Timothy Bradley.
In a seven-page petition, Bello expressed belief that if the boxing match pushing through on April 9 would give Pacquiao tremendous advantage over the other senatorial aspirants in terms of media exposure in violation of Republic Act 9006 or the Fair Election Act.
He pointed out that when one’s profession or occupation entails constant projection before the mass media, the law requires that they go on leave during the campaign period.
“Mr. Pacquiao’s main livelihood is professional boxing… When he exercises his boxing profession during the campaign period, he is the unduly taking advantage of his profession to enhance his senatorial candidacy,” Bello added.
He stressed that if the spirit and intent of the RA 9006 were to be strictly followed, “Mr. Pacquiao should be required to go on leave from his profession during the campaign period.”
Bello also called on Pacquiao to voluntariy reset his April 9 fight to a later date after the May 9 elections.
Jimenez said the Bello petition has already been studied by the Comelec law department, which recommendations would be the subject of discussion by the seven-man Commission during its regular en banc session on Tuesday.