THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) has revealed that presidential candidate Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III has gone over the 120-minute television airtime limit set by the poll body.

The Liberal Party (LP) standard bearer has spent 291.5 minutes of airtime in ABS-CBN Channel 2, according to the broadcast logs submitted by the station.

“Aquino has logged on more than 290 minutes already. This is tolled against his personal limit,” said Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez.

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Meanwhile, the Nacionalista Party (NP) of Senator Manny Villar has also exceeded his airtime at the same local channel with 256.5 minutes.

Villar has only spent 27.75 minutes of personal airtime.

“Villar has only tolled about 27 minutes, a little less than 30 minutes but the Nacionalista Party has tolled more than 250 minutes in terms of broadcast advertising minutes for ABS-CBN...so Villar is technically not over the limit,” Jimenez explained.

Under the Fair Elections Practices Act, candidates and registered political parties for a national elective position can only consume 120 minutes in television or cable television.

Other major television network GMA 7 has only submitted a partial list of its broadcast logs.

Aquino has spent 49 minutes, while NP consumed 57 minutes at GMA 7.

Jimenez said the strategy of LP and NP only differed in a way that Aquino chose to use up his personal time instead that of his party's while Villar did the opposite.

The broadcast logs covering the start of the campaign period last February 9 until March 12 showed Joseph Estrada consumed 57 minutes in ABS-CBN and 45.5 minutes in GMA-7; Richard Gordon with 47.5 minutes in ABS-CBN and 39.5 minutes in GMA-7; and Bro. Eddie Villanueva has six minutes of personal air time spent in GMA-7.

The other presidential candidates have not spent a single minute on both major television networks during the period covered by the broadcast logs.

All broadcast media outfits were ordered by the commission to submit certified true copies of broadcast logs of political advertisements on March 9, April 9, May 8, and May 14.

Pera at Pulitika report

Recent data from Pera at Pulitika, meanwhile, reported that Villar has used up 122.5 minutes of airtime in ABS-CBN and 128.25 minutes in GMA.

“According to an earlier report released by Pera and Pulitika based on the Nielsen report, those candidates also are approaching their limit for GMA-7 as well,” said Jimenez.

The group monitoring campaign expenditures, which covered the start of the campaign period until March 24, also reported that Aquino consumed 129 minutes in ABS-CBN and 118 minutes in GMA.

The other candidates have stayed under the 120-minute limit.

“It appears we are in agreement with other monitoring bodies...There's just a little variance in numbers but we can work with them to find out where those variances came from but in general, our conclusions are the same,” Jimenez said.

Disqualification

If Aquino and the NP will continue to display their ads in ABS-CBN, Jimenez said they may face disqualification if they fail to present "justifiable reasons" to the commission's law department.

“Obviously, this is in violation of the Fair Elections Act, this is an election offense. Ultimately, disqualification is a possibility,” he said.

Comelec will be notifying these candidates of their airtime records and will be warning those who have gone over the limit to stop them from airing further ads on the station where they have exceeded.

Political parties might be charged of not less than P10,000 if they exceed their airtime limit.

Jimenez explained that they were not able to warn the candidates and the parties right away since they receive broadcast logs periodically and not on a day-to-day basis.

“You have to give them the opportunity to explain on why they went over...all of these will have to be heard,” he added.

TV stations where candidates and parties may have exceeded their airtime will also be reprimanded by the commission.

The poll body is charging the airtime through the “paid for” clause in the advertisement.

“We've always monitored this with the ‘paid for’ clause...the candidate is always different from the party so we can see right away who spent the air time,” the Comelec official explained.

Donations for candidates will also be credited to the candidate since the donation has to be accompanied by an acceptance. (Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)