The ban on political advertisements on public transportation has been lifted by the Land Transportation Franchising Board (LTFRB) in compliance with the Supreme Court (SC) decision that nullified the Commission on Elections’ resolution on political ad ban on public transport.
The move allows buses, jeepneys, trains, taxicabs, ferries, pedicabs and tricycles to display or exhibit any election campaign propaganda.
However, the LTFRB said that operators need to apply for a permit and should comply with the board’s requirements and guidelines.
“As part of its authority and powers to regulate the display of transit advertisements on all public utility vehicles (PUVs) and in compliance with and to implement the Supreme Court decision in 1-Utak vs Comelec, which declared null and void the 2013 Comelec resolution prohibiting the posting, displaying and exhibiting of election campaign materials and propaganda in public utility vehicles, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) issued public announcement lifting the ban on political ads on PUVs/PUBs,” the Board said in a statement.
With the election campaign kicking off early next year, LTFRB chairman Winston Ginez said the Board lifted the ban so that candidates can post their ads on public vehicles.
However, operators of public transport should state in their application the exact locations where the political ads will be displayed. These materials should not impede, limit or obstruct in any way the drivers’ line of sight.
Political candidates and PUB/PUV operators who failed to comply with the standard requirements and guidelines of the said MC will be penalized accordingly.
Transportation group 1-United Transport Koalisyon (1-Utak) represented by Vigor Mendoza questioned Comelec Resolution No. 9615 that made it unlawful for PUVs to be used in election campaign.
“The right…includes not only the right to vote, but also the right to urge others to vote for a particular candidate,” the group said in its petition to the High Court.
The group described the Comelec ruling as an “infringement of their (constitutional) right to freedom of expression.”
The tribunal, in laying aside the Comelec resolution, said “the right to express one’s preference for a candidate is…part of the fundamental right to free speech.”
“Thus, any governmental restriction on the right to convince others to vote for a candidate carries with it a heavy presumption of invalidity,” the SC, through a decision penned by Associate Justice Bienvenido Reyes, said.
“On a final note, it bears stressing that the freedom to advertise one’s political candidacy is clearly a significant part of our freedom of expression. A restriction on this freedom without rhyme or reason is a violation of the most valuable feature of the democratic life,” it added.
Board member Ariel Inton Jr. gave assurances that the LTFRB will not favor any political candidate or party in the processing of applications. The Board, he stressed, will only regulate the placement of the political advertisements within the vehicle.