Saturday, February 20, 2016

Pacquiao cannot be disqualified from Senate bid over fight – lawyer | News | GMA News Online

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An election lawyer said on Friday that senatorial candidate and incumbent Sarangani Representative Manny Pacquiao cannot be disqualified from the May 9 elections because of his April boxing match with Timothy Bradley Jr.

“There is no provision in election laws that would justify any complaint to disqualify him just because of the said boxing event,” lawyer Romulo Macalintal said in a statement, countering former Akbayan party-list Representative Walden Bello claim that Pacquiao could be disqualified because of the fight.

Bello, who is also running for Senate, pointed out that under the Commission on Elections' (Comelec's) Resolution 9615 issued in 2013, the definition of "political advertisement" included media appearances in shows that were not covered by the “Comelec hour,” or the television airtime networks are asked to provide candidates for the sake of equal exposure.

“There are limits to political advertising. This globally and nationally televised fight a month before the elections would mean hours and hours of coverage before, during and after the fight. This media attention, supplemented by national pay-per-view television coverage during the fight, would be massive free advertising,” Bello argued.

Bello also warned that if Pacquiao refuses voluntarily to move the fight schedule to after the elections, he might be forced to file a disqualification case against the boxer.

Macalintal, however, countered that there was no provision in the election laws that prohibited a candidate from participating in any sport.

Macalintal further said that “Pacquiao cannot be held liable for media coverage because it is a matter between the media entity and the promoter of the fight of which Pacquiao has nothing to do.”

Macalintal also pointed out that if there is indeed any violation of election law, a criminal complaint has to be filed and go through the legal proceedings. “[I]t is only after conviction of said offense that a candidate could be disqualified to seek public office either by election or appointment,” he argued.

Macalintal added that if there was any offense under Philippine laws, the same cannot be applied against Pacquiao as the fight will be held in Las Vegas. “[O]ur courts, under the doctrine of territoriality, have no jurisdiction over offenses committed by a person outside the territory of the Philippines, except if it involves national security of the country. For sure, the Pacquiao-Bradley fight is not covered by such exception,” Macalintal said.

Media entities covering the pre-fight as well as the actual fight could not also be held liable as Section 86 of the Omnibus Election Code recognized “the right of media entities to broadcast accounts of significant or newsworthy events and views on matters of public interest.” 

“Surely, the said boxing event is a newsworthy event and a historical one as it will feature the last or final fight of Pacquiao who is considered as pride of the Filipino people as a world class fighter,” Macalintal said. — Elizabeth Marcelo/DVM, GMA News

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