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Comelec restrains media

The headline of one newspaper caught my attention a few days ago.  It said that from Davos, Switzerland where President Aquino attended the World Economic Forum, he told the senators to stop feuding and urged them to focus their attention instead to the enactment of crucial legislation. No doubt, everybody wants the feuding senators to concentrate on legislation and not quarrel over personal matters.  This includes the President. But does Mr. Aquino have the right to tell the senators, who belong to a co-equal branch of government, what to do or not to do?  In the same breath, can the senators also tell the President to stop noynoying on urgent matters? We the taxpayers are well within our rights to tell our lawmakers what they should and should not do. The President? I don’t think so. *** I had a good laugh when I heard that upon his arrival, President Aquino boasted that foreign investors are now lining up to invest in the Philippines.  According to him, investors have now seen what he has done to reform the country through his anti-corruption campaign. Hence, they are all eager to come to the Philippines and place their money where their mouth is. I have my doubts. To some extent, economic indicators have shown that our economy has turned around.  The growth of our gross domestic product has indeed exceeded expectations. But to say that investors are now lining up is far from reality. Since he assumed office in 2010, President Aquino has gone abroad 27 times.  This year, he has 12 or 13 trips lined up for him.  Every time the President comes home, he confidently claims that investors are now racing to come here. Is he hallucinating?  Promises and pledges are one thing. Actual investments are quite another. The Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce say that while there are investors coming, they pale in comparison to those coming to Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam and Indonesia.  We are getting only the crumbs! Foremost among their concerns is the restrictive provision in the Constitution which mandates a 60-40 equity in favor of Filipinos in business and industry. The country also has some policies  and practices that discourage investors from putting their money here for fear of getting entangled in rules getting changed midstream. Anti-corruption reforms are not enough. Must the President go to Davos and spend at least P49 million to air our dirty linen abroad? The upsurge of criminality is getting worse, and can only worsen as the May 13 polls approach. Just read the newspapers, listen to the radio and watch television to know what I mean. It seems that the government has lost control. President Aquino may have to an extent addressed the problem of corruption, but we all know that unless peace and order are restored, and people feel safe in their homes and on the streets, no foreign investors will come. *** It surprises me no end that media doesn’t seem to realize what the Comelec has been doing in the name of leveling the playing field in the May 13 midterm elections.  The poll body has been issuing guidelines and resolutions which to me infringe on freedom of the press and free speech. Take for instance the guidelines that says the Comelec must approve the interview of candidates by media. It’s patently stupid! I’m surprised that the KBP Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster sa Pilipinas and the National Press Club have not raised a protest.  Why must the Comelec be consulted when candidates are interviewed? Then came Comelec Resolution No. 9615, promulgated on January 15, providing that “all parties and bona fide candidates shall have the right to reply to charges published or aired against them.” The resolution added that “(t)he reply shall be given publicity by the newspaper, television, and/or radio station which first printed or aired the charges with the same prominence or in the same page or section, or in the same time slot as the first statement.” Surprisingly, only The Manila Standard Today seems to have noticed this by coming out with a scathing editorial last January 26.  This paper assailed the resolution which infringes on editorial judgment. I don’t know what kind of Comelec commissioners we have.  It does seem like they have crossed the line this time.  The resolution is not only illegal and unconstitutional, but outright silly and stupid. My gulay, the Comelec did not even give media a chance to be heard. The Omnibus Election Code provide consultations no less. Perhaps, the commissioners are either blind or just showing us that in matters of elections, they are the gods of Mount Olympus.
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