FORMER Akbayan party-list Rep. Walden Bello on Monday formally asked the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to come up with a stand on the coming fight of Sarangani Rep. Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao with American boxer Timothy Bradley.
Pacquiao is running for senator under the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA).
In a seven-page petition, Bello, an independent senatorial candidate, said that the Comelec allowing the fight to push through on April 9 will give Pacquiao tremendous advantage over the other senatorial aspirants in terms of media exposure.
This mileage, he added, violates Republic Act 9006 or the Fair Elections Act.
He cited in particular Section 6.4 of the law that mandates the Comelec to ensure that all registered parties and candidates have equal access to media time and space.
“This [provision]is intended to ensure that all parties and bona fide candidates shall have equal access to media time and space for their election propaganda during the campaign period,” Bello said.
It is probable, according to the former lawmaker, that Pacquiao was aware that his fight will give him continuing media publicity since it will be held a month before the May 9 elections.
Bello pointed out that, under the law, when a candidate’s profession or occupation entails constant projection before the mass media, that candidate is required to go on leave.
“Mr. Pacquiao’s main livelihood is professional boxing. When he exercises his boxing profession during the campaign period, he is unduly taking advantage of his profession to enhance his senatorial candidacy,” he said.
If the spirit and intent of the RA 9006 were to be strictly followed, Bello added, “Mr. Pacquiao should be required to go on leave from his profession during the campaign period.”
He asked the Comelec to study Pacquiao’s case and take the necessary action, noting that the poll body has the power to stop the showing of the fight.
The former lawmaker called on Pacquaio to reschedule his fight after the elections.
Comelec Chairman Juan Andres Bautista earlier said he had asked the commission’s lawyers to study the issue.
He admitted that the poll body has the authority to stop the airing of the boxing fight if it is found out to be in violation of election laws.