Comelec en banc to discuss petition vs. Pacquiao fight on Tuesday

The Commission on Elections en banc is expected to discuss anew the petition seeking for clarifications on how the campaign rules will apply to senatorial candidate Manny Pacquiao in light of his upcoming boxing match.
In an interview on Monday, Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said the law department – earlier tasked to give recommendations on the situation – has submitted its findings.
Asked about its content, Jimenez said, “‘Ang Commission ang makaka-first look sa recommendation ng law department.”
He added, however, that the poll body is looking into the circumstances surrounding Pacquiao’s fight against Timothy Bradley, scheduled Apr. 9, or a month before the polls.
Jimenez pointed out that this isn’t the first time that Pacquiao, current Sarangani representative, had a boxing match within the campaign period.
The boxing champ ran for representative of the first district of South Cotabato in 2007, when he eventually lost to then incumbent lawmaker Darlene Antonino-Custodio.
On Apr. 15 that year, Pacquiao fought Mexican boxer Jorge Solis.
Election lawyer Sixto Brillantes—who would later become Comelec chief—filed the petition beforehand, raising concerns over the media exposure that Pacquiao was going to get from the fight, its promo, and product endorsements.
The Commission allowed the airing of the fight as a whole around the country as a matter of “national interest.”
However, it imposed “partial restriction” in South Cotabato, where only the pre-fight sparring session and the actual boxing match were aired.
His product endorsements were allowed to be aired only in Metro Manila.
During Monday’s interview, Jimenez said: “Remember that time, mas maliit na office ang tinatakbuhan ni Congressman Pacquiao, so it might be different circumstances. Obviously, it might have different solutions.”
“But again, matagal na ‘yun, 2007 pa ‘yun and it does not bind the Commission,” he said. “The Commission will have to come up with its own set of rules and justification for how it will treat this new case.”
The petition for Pacquiao’s latest fight was filed by former Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello, himself a senatorial candidate.
Bello said the bout may give Pacquiao “undue advantage” over other candidates. He sought clarifications from the Commission, and even asked the boxing champ to temporarily stop from his sport. — RSJ, GMA News

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