The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday struck down the airtime limit imposed by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on political and campaign advertisements for broadcast media, particularly television and radio stations, saying it is unconstitutional.
During Tuesday’s deliberations, the SC magistrates ruled to partly grant petitions filed by GMA Network Corp., ABC Development Corp., Kapisanan ng mga Brodkasters ng Pilipinas and Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano. In particular, the SC en banc declared illegal and unconstitutional section 9(a) of Comelec Resolution 9615, which was later amended as Resolution 9631. The petitioners said the Comelec rule was “vague” and “too restrictive.”
The questioned law gives national candidates only 180 minutes in aggregate airtime in all radio stations and 120 minutes in all television stations. Local candidates were given only 60 minutes in all TV stations and 90 minutes in all radio stations.
With its ruling, the High Court made permanent the temporary restraining order it issued on April 16, 2013 stopping the implementation of the assailed portion of the Comelec resolution.
The SC said the Comelec will have to implement its previous ruling granting national candidates 120 minutes in airtime in each TV network, citing the “arbitrary manner by which Comelec changed the previous regulation from “per station” to “aggregate total.” The tribunal added that the questioned ruling violates freedom of expression, speech and the press and the people’s right to suffrage.
“The court sustained the other challenged sections of the resolution because it did not impose an unreasonable burden on the broadcast industry and the provision of the right to reply is reasonable under the circumstances,” it was pointed out.