By ATTY. GREGORIO Y. LARRAZABAL
What constitutes a campaign propaganda? Are tarpaulins/billboards with greetings or advertisements considered campaign material?
Election propaganda is defined as referring to “any matter broadcasted, published, printed, displayed, or exhibited, in any medium, which contains the name, image, logo, brand, insignia, color motif, initials, and other symbol or graphic representation that is capable of being associated with a candidate, and is exclusively intended to draw the attention of the public or a segment thereof to promote or oppose DIRECTLY or INDIRECTLY, the election of the said candidate or candidates to apublic office.”
Based on the definition above-quoted, tarpaulins or other materials which contain the image or name of a candidate, even if for an advertisement for a brand or product, is considered as campaign propaganda, and should fall under the limits of RA 9006. Thus, billboards which have the face of candidates should be removed, even if the candidate is merely an endorser of a brand or product in the billboard, as it indirectly promotes a candidate.
However, this prohibition currently applies only to national candidates. For local candidates, they’re considered candidates only on March 29, 2019, at the start of the campaign period for local candidates.
How much responsibility does a candidate have when a supporter puts up a tarp that doesn’t meet the requirement on the limits of the sizing of the campaign materials?
Under the law, candidates are given three days from receipt of notice from Comelec to remove illegally posted campaign material, or propaganda which exceeds the limits prescribed by law.
Candidates who, when they receive the notice from Comelec, allege that the illegal campaign materials were not posted by them, must inform Comelec of such. Otherwise, the assumption is that the material was installed/posted/mounted, with their consent. Nevertheless, the illegal campaign material must be removed.
Again, as stated above, this currently applies only to national candidates. For local candidates, they’re considered candidates only on March 29, 2019, at the start of the campaign period for local candidates.
What is the minimum discount that should be provided to candidates who take out political propaganda with media outlets?
Republic Act No. 11207, which was signed by President Rodrigo Duterte on 14 February 2019, provides:
“Sec. 1. Amended Rates of Political Propaganda – Sec. 11 of Republic Act 9006, otherwise known as the ‘Fair Election Act,’ is hereby amended to read as follows:
Sec. 11. Rates of Political Propaganda. – During the election period, media outlets shall give registered political parties and bona fide candidates a discount of fifty percent (50%) for television, forty percent (40%) for radio, and ten percent (10%) for print, from the average of the published rates charged in the last three calendar years prior to the election.
Nothing in this provision prohibits a media outlet from giving higher discounts: Provided, That the discount it gives one candidate shall be the same discount it gives to other candidates for the same position.”
Thus, the law sets the minimum discount that should be provided to registered political parties and bona fide candidates running in the May 13, 2019, Automated National Elections. The discount likewise only applies to ads done within the election period. The minimum discount should be: 50% for television ads, 40% for radio ads, and 10% for print ads. The media entity can give a bigger discount, but the bigger discount must be given uniformly to all political parties and candidates.
But there seems to be a disconnect here. Because technically, individuals running in the elections are considered candidates only at the start of the campaign period, not at the start of the election period. There is now a disconnect between the provisions of RA 9369 and RA 11207. We’ll discuss this in next week’s column.
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