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Comelec considers ‘minor changes’ in assailed resolution

The Commission on Elections is considering amendments to a controversial resolution which contained provisions that came under fire from print and broadcast media organizations. “Definitely there will be changes but I don’t think it will be major. We have not discussed it yet. We are going to discuss it now while it’s still fresh in our minds,” said Elections chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. said after a hearing on the resolution at the Comelec main office in Intramuros. The poll chief was referring to Resolution No. 9615, promulgated last January 15, that was meant to be implementing rules to the Fair Election Act of 2007. Media organizations, however, opposed the resolution because of procedural and substantive concerns on its legality. The Comelec is also looking into the possibility of changing the provision on the right to reply, which stated that “candidates shall have the right to reply to charges published or aired against them.” “There will be minor changes. We want to remove it. We will just use the law and the Constitution, but that will be harder because we will now interpret it on a case-to-case basis.” he said. Brillantes said he expects the commission to release the amended rules anytime next week. “Most likely, there will be no major changes. We studied it already before we came here,” he said. But broadcast giant GMA Network urged the Comelec to reinstate the rule on the airtime allotment in the 2010 elections, and sought the recall of the controversial provisions of Resolution 9615. In a letter dated January 30, GMA, through its lawyers Roberto Rafael Lucila and Pierre Cantara, said the “broadcasting entities would surely encounter insurmountable difficulties in monitoring the broadcasting minutes spent by the numerous candidates for various elective positions.” GMA said that compliance with the new rules will be “cruel and oppressive” particularly considering that TV and radio stations and their officers would be criminally liable for violating airtime limits.  
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