Poll violation probe to begin

MANILA • The Philippines' election commission will consider a complaint accusing boxing champion Manny Pacquiao of violating regulations by promoting his upcoming fight in the thick of the campaign.

It is the latest blow to Pacquiao's bid for the Philippine Senate after he drew global condemnation for describing gay people as "worse than animals".

"The complaint will be discussed during the commission en banc meeting tomorrow," Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Andres Bautista said.

Bautista said Pacquiao's promotion of his April fight with Timothy Bradley in Las Vegas was a "grey area", given the cap on radio and television airtime for candidates during the 90-day campaign period this month.

Walden Bello, a rival Senate candidate who has trailed Pacquiao in opinion polls, filed the complaint yesterday.

The most recent poll by Social Weather Stations put Pacquiao in eighth place in the race for 12 Senate seats up for grabs in May.

Bello said the poll body should determine whether Pacquiao's television appearances to promote his fight should be counted against the 120-minute television airtime limit for the campaign.

"We want to know if this violates the equal-time rule because, in our view, this will give overwhelmingly great hours to Pacquiao and put us at a tremendous disadvantage," Bello said.

Should Comelec decide to count Pacquiao's media blitz against his airtime limit, Bello suggested the boxer postpone the fight until after the elections.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 23, 2016, with the headline 'Poll violation probe to begin'. Print Edition | Subscribe