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Comelec eases ruling on media interviews

Media outlets can interview candidates during the campaign period without prior approval from the Commission on Elections. This developed after the Comelec scrapped a provision in Resolution 9615 that required broadcast networks and publications to its prior approval before the interview or TV/radio appearances of the candidates can be made. The provision was intended to avoid the interviews and appearances classified as election propaganda of candidates and political parties. In its new Resolution 9631, the commission now requires publications and broadcast networks to give the Comelec prior notice or, if impossible, a notice sent within 24 hours after the interviews or TV/radio appearances are published or aired. The Comelec came up with the amendment few weeks after lawmakers contested the “prior approval” provision, saying the people have the “right to know the candidates and the political issues surrounding the campaign so they can decide who they will vote for on election day.” The lawmakers also said the Comelec should consider exceptions to the rule because members of Congress were usually sought for their opinions on various issues, including disasters. The campaign period for senatorial and party-list candidates will start Feb. 12 until May 11, 2013 while in the local positions such as congressmen, governors, mayors, councilors and board members will begin on March 29 until May 11, 2013. Comelec spokesman James Jimenez asked the public to be vigilant and informed the commission about candidates violating campaign rules. Among the prohibited acts: - To print, publish, post or distribute any newspaper, newsletter, newsweekly, gazette or magazine advertising, pamphlet, leaflet, card, decal, bumper sticker, poster, comic book, circular, handbill, streamer, sample list of candidates or any published or printed political matter and to broadcast any election propaganda or political ads by TV or radio or on the internet for or against a candidate or group of candidates to any public office, unless they bear and be identified by the reasonably legible, or audible words “political advertisement paid for.” - To show publicly in a theater, TV station, or any public forum any movie, cinematography or documentary portraying the life or biography of a candidate, or in which a character is portrayed by an actor or media personality who is himself a candidate.
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