Election Gag Provisions on the News Media


 The Comelec blog (http://www.comelec.wordpress.com) said the Comelec has “corrected” the gag provision on the publication or airing of surveys, as follows:       type.jpg

        Quote”Amendment to Com Res. No. 7767 approved by Comelec 

         Quote “Posted by comelec-eid on January 30th, 2007                 Quote “Commission on Elections (COMELEC) Commissioner Florentino A. Tuason today said that the provision in Comelec Resolution No. 7767, the implementing rules and regulations of the Fair Elections Act (RA 9006), that limits the publication of surveys affecting national and local candidates has been corrected.              


            Quote “COMELEC Spokesperson James Jimenez reiterated that the insertion of the provision in the resolution was the result of inadvertence and not at all intended to curtail the people’s right to information and limit the freedom of the press.                               


           Quote “He said copies of the amended resolution will be available once all Commissioners have affixed their signatures on the document.” unquote.                                  


         So, that went well. I haven’t read the exact amended resolution; the blog entry just said the provision had been corrected, so we don’t know if it had been entirely removed or the period just shortened.               


          Some of the following provisions also create certain prohibitions on the news media, or  what I call certain gag-provisions-on-speech-outside-the-election-campaign-period, and gag-provisions-on-speech-during-election-campaign-period (by “speech” i mean, as it used in the free-speech clause, or forms of expresion). You might want to take a look at them (I’ll reserve the line-by-line review for later); some need to be clarified or maybe “narrowed down” or illustrated,  so members of the news media  would have an idea of how these gag rules would be enforced; like the gag on “speeches, commentaries, interviews, for or against any candidate”  outside of  the election campaign period (Section 1 (1) (c)  in relation to Sec. 4 and Sec. 42);  or “spots or guestings (sic) to promote or oppose, directly or indirectly, the election of any candidate” (Section 1 (3) in relation to Sec. 42) ; or “unduly or repeatedly referring to or unnecessarily mentioning his (a candidate’s) name”  during the election  campaign period(Sec. 11 (5));  some are harmless like the provision on exit polls; or requiring columnists and media commentators who are running for office to take a leave-of-absence from their day job in the media;  some are “funny”  like Sec. 16 which had been lifted word-for-word  from the PPI Code of Ethics;  while Sec. 20 put into effect the right-to-reply bill which had not gotten past Congress because of the strong resistance from news editors and directors.                


          Anyway, here they are for your reading “pleiyshure”               


          SECTION 1. Definitions.– As used in this resolution:   


      1. The term “election campaign” or “partisan political activity” refers to any act designed to promote the election or defeat of a particular candidate or candidates to a public office which shall include any of the following:                      xxx 


         (1) c. Making speeches, announcements or commentaries, or holding interviews for or against the election of any candidate for public office; xxx      


          3. The term “political advertisement” refers to any matter broadcasted, published, printed, or exhibited which is intended to draw the attention of the public or a segment thereof to promote or oppose, directly or indirectly, the election of a particular candidate or candidates to a public office. In the broadcast media, political advertisements may take the form of spots, guestings in TV shows and radio programs, live or taped announcements, teasers, and other forms of advertising messages or announcements used by commercial advertisers.         xxx      


            SEC. 4. Prohibited Campaign. – It is unlawful for any person, or for any political party, or association of persons to engage in an election campaign or partisan political activity outside of the campaign periods.           


        SEC. 5. Acts Not Considered Election Campaign or Partisan Political Activity. – The following acts shall not be considered as part of prohibited campaign even if done outside of the campaign period:      


       1. Any of the acts enumerated in SEC. 1 (1) hereof if performed for the purpose of enhancing the chances of aspirants for nomination as official candidates of any political party, organization or coalition; and         


         2. Public expression of opinions or discussions of issues in the forthcoming election or on attributes of or criticisms against probable candidates proposed to be nominated as official candidates in a forthcoming convention of a political party, organization, and/or coalition thereof.  xxx         


        SEC. 11. Prohibited Forms of Election Propaganda. – During the campaign period, it is unlawful:  xxx      


         3. To show, display or exhibit publicly in a theatre, television station, or any public forum any movie, cinematography or documentary portraying the life or biography of a candidate, or portrayed by an actor or media personality who is himself a candidate;      


          4. For any newspaper or publication, radio, television or cable television station, or other mass media, or any person making use of the mass media to sell or to give free of charge print space or air time for campaign or election propaganda purposes to any candidate, political party, or party-list group, organization, or coalition thereof in excess of the size, duration or frequency authorized by law or these rules;       


         5. For any radio, television, cable television station, announcer or broadcaster to allow the scheduling of any program, or permit any sponsor to manifestly favor or oppose any candidate, political party, party-list group, organization, and/or coalition thereof by unduly or repeatedly referring to, or unnecessarily mentioning his name, or including therein said candidate, political party, party-list group, organization, and/or coalition thereof; and  xxx        


       SEC. 16. Fair and Accurate Reporting. – All members of the media, television, radio, or print shall scrupulously report and interpret the news, taking care not to suppress essential facts or distort the truth by omission or improper emphasis. They shall recognize the duty to air the other side and the duty to correct substantive errors promptly without prejudice to the right of said broadcast entities to air accounts of significant news or newsworthy events and views on matters of public interest.   xxx    


          SEC. 19. COMELEC Space and Time for COMELEC Information Dissemination. – The Commission shall furthermore procure print space and air time as follows: xxx      


         b. Airtime         xxx 


          Interviews with candidates on their platforms or programs of government may be considered as election-related concern which the Commission shall allow as it deems fit to raise the level of campaign to public issues and vision of government, provided that the moderator or interviewer shall be a COMELEC official or one designated by the Commission specially for the purpose and provided further that all candidates shall be given equal access and opportunity.          


         SEC. 20. Right to Reply. – All registered political parties, party-list groups, organizations, and/or coalitions thereof, and bona fide candidates shall have the right to reply to charges published or aired against them. The reply shall be given publicity by the newspaper, television, and/or radio station which first printed or aired the charges with the same prominence or in the same page or  in the same time slot as the first statement.  xxx         


         SEC. 33. Exit Polls. – Exit polls may only be taken subject to the following requirements:        


         1. Pollsters shall not conduct their surveys within fifty (50) meters from the polling place, whether said survey is taken in a home, dwelling place and other places;         


           2. Pollsters shall wear distinctive clothing and prominently wear their identification cards issued by the organization they represent;          


        3. Pollsters shall inform the voters that they may refuse to answer; and         


            4. The results of the exit polls may be announced after the closing of the polls on election day, and must identify the total number of respondents, and the places where they were taken. Said announcement shall state that the same is unofficial and does not represent a trend.       xxx 

SEC. 39. Mass Media Columnist, Announcer or Personality Running for Public Office or is a Campaign Volunteer. – Any mass media columnist, commentator, announcer, reporter, on-air correspondent, or personality who is a candidate for any elective public office, or is a campaign volunteer for or employed or retained in any capacity by any candidate, political party, or party-list group, or organization, and/or coalition thereof, shall be deemed resigned, if so required by their employer, or shall take a leave of absence from his/her work as such during the campaign period: Provided, That any media practitioner who is an official of a political party or a member of the campaign staff of a candidate, political party, or party-list group, organization, and/or coalition thereof, shall not use his/her time or space to favor any candidate, political party, or party-list group, organization, and/or coalition thereof.  xxx         


        SEC. 42. Election Offense. – Any violation of RA 9006 and these rules shall constitute an election offense punishable under the first and second paragraphs of SEC. 264 of the Omnibus Election Code in addition to administrative liability whenever applicable.  xxx

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