Section 1. Short Title. - This Act shall be known as the "Fair Election Act."
Sec. 2. Declaration of Principles. - The State shall, during the election period, supervise or regulate the enjoyment or utilization of all franchises or permits for the operation of media of communication or information to guarantee or ensure equal opportunity for public service, including access to media time and space, and the equitable right to reply, for public information campaigns and fora among candidates and assure free, orderly, honest. peaceful and credible elections.
The State shall ensure that bona fide candidates for any public office shall be free from any form of harassment and discrimination.
Sec. 3. Lawful Election Propaganda. - Election propaganda whether on television, cable television, radio, newspapers or any other medium is hereby allowed for all registered political parties, national, regional, sectoral parties or organizations participating under the party-list elections and for all bona fide candidates seeking national and local elective positions subject to the limitation on authorized expenses of candidates and political parties, observance of truth in advertising and to the supervision and regulation by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC).
For the purpose of this Act, lawful election propaganda shall include:
3.2. Handwritten or printed letters urging voters to vote for or against any particular political party or candidate for public office;
3.3. Cloth, paper or cardboard posters whether framed, or posted, with an area not exceeding two (2) feet by three (3) feet, except that, at the site and on the occasion of a public meeting or rally, or in announcing the holding of said meeting or rally, streamers not exceeding three (3) feet by eight (8) feet in size, shall be allowed: Provided, That said streamers may be displayed five (5) days before the date of the meeting or rally and shall be removed within twenty-four (24) hours after said meeting or rally;
3.4. Paid advertisements in print or broadcast media: Provided, That the advertisements shall follow the requirements set forth in Section 4 of this Act; and
3.5. All other forms of election propaganda not prohibited by the Omnibus Election Code or this Act.
Sec. 4. Requirements for Published or Printed and Broadcast Election Propaganda. -
4.2. If the broadcast is given free of charge by the radio or television station, it shall be identified by the words "airtime for this broadcast was provided free of charge by" followed by the true and correct name and address of the broadcast entity.
4.3. Print, broadcast or outdoor advertisements donated to the candidate or political party shall not be printed, published, broadcast or exhibited without the written acceptance by the said candidate or political party. Such written acceptance shall be attached to the advertising contract and shall be submitted to the COMELEC as provided in Subsection 6.3 hereof.
Sec. 5. Election Surveys. -
the election period, any person, natural as well as juridical,
or organization who publishes a survey must likewise publish the
(b) The name of the person, polling firm or survey organization who conducted the survey;
(c) The period during which the survey was conducted, the methodology used, including the number of individual respondents and the areas from which they were selected, and the specific questions asked;
(d) The margin of error of the survey;
(e) For each question for which the margin of error is greater than that reported under paragraph (d), the margin of error for that question; and
(f) A mailing address and telephone number, indicating it as an address or telephone number at which the sponsor can be contacted to obtain a written report regarding the survey in accordance with Subsection 5.3.
5.5. Exit polls may only be taken subject to the following requirements:
(b) Pollsters shall wear distinctive clothing;
(c) Pollsters shall inform the voters that they may refuse to answer; and
(d) The result of the exit polls may be announced after the closing of the polls on election day, and must clearly identify the total number of respondents, and the places where they were taken. Said announcement shall state that the same is unofficial and does not represent a trend.
Sec. 6. Equal Access to Media Time and Space. - All registered parties and bona fide candidates have equal access to media time and space. The following guidelines may be amplified on by the COMELEC:
6.2. (a) Each bona fide candidate or registered political party for a nationally elective office shall be entitled to not more than one hundred twenty (120) minutes of television advertisement and one hundred eighty (180) minutes of radio advertisement whether by purchase or donation.
(b) Each bona fide candidate or registered political party for a locally elective office shall be entitled to not more than sixty (60) minutes of television advertisement and ninety (90) minutes of radio advertisement whether by purchase or donation.
6.3. All mass media entities shall furnish the COMELEC with a copy of all contracts for advertising, promoting or opposing any political party or the candidacy of any person for public office within five (5) days after its signing. In every case, it shall be signed by the donor, the candidate concerned or by the duly authorized representative of the political party.
6.4. No franchise or permit to operate a radio or television station shall be granted or issued, suspended or cancelled during the election period.
In all instances, the COMELEC shall supervise the use and employment of press, radio and television facilities insofar as the placement of political advertisements is concerned to ensure that candidates are given equal opportunities under equal circumstances to make known their qualifications and their stand on public issues within the limits set forth in the Omnibus Election Code and Republic Act No. 7l66 on election spending.
The COMELEC shall ensure that radio or television or cable television broadcasting entities shall not allow the scheduling of any program or permit any sponsor to manifestly favor or oppose any candidate or political party by unduly or repeatedly referring to or including said candidate and/or political party in such program respecting, however, in all instances the right of said broadcast entities to air accounts of significant news or news worthy events and views on matters of public interest.
6.5. All members of media, television, radio or print, shall scrupulously report and interpret the news, taking care not to suppress essential facts nor to distort the truth by omission or improper emphasis.
They shall recognize the duty to air the other side and the duty to correct substantive errors promptly.
6.6. Any mass media columnist, commentator, announcer, reporter, on-air correspondent or personality who is a candidate for any elective public office or is a campaign volunteer for or employed or retained in any capacity by any candidate or political party shall be deemed resigned, if so required by their employer, or shall take a leave of absence from his/her work as such during the campaign period: Provided, That any media practitioner who is an official of a political party or a member of the campaign staff of a candidate or political party shall not use his/her time or space to favor any candidate or political party.
6.7. No movie, cinematograph or documentary portraying the life or biography of a candidate shall be publicly exhibited in a theater, television station or any public forum during the campaign period.
6.8. No movie, cinematograph or documentary portrayed by an actor or media personality who is himself a candidate shall likewise be publicly exhibited in a theater or any public forum during the campaign period.
Sec. 7. Affirmative Action by the COMELEC. -
7.2. The COMELEC shall also procure free airtime from at least three (3) national television networks and three (3) national radio networks, which shall also be allocated free of charge equally and impartially among all candidates for national office. Such free time shall be allocated on three (3) different calendar days: the first day within the first week of the campaign period; the second day within the fifth week of the campaign period; and the third day within the tenth week of the campaign period.
7.3. The COMELEC may require national television and radio networks to sponsor at least three (3) national debates among presidential candidates and at least one (1) national debate among vice presidential candidates. The debates among presidential candidates shall be scheduled on three (3) different calendar days: the first debate shall be scheduled within the first and second week of the campaign period; the second debate within the fifth and six week of the campaign period; and the third debate shall be scheduled within the tenth and eleventh week of the campaign period.
The sponsoring television or radio network may sell airtime for commercials and advertisements to interested advertisers and sponsors. The COMELEC shall promulgate rules and regulations for the holding of such debates.
Sec. 8. COMELEC Space and Time. - The COMELEC shall procure space in at least one (1) newspaper of general circulation and air time in at least one (1) major broadcasting station or entity in every province or city: Provided, however, That in the absence of said newspaper, publication shall be done in any other magazine or periodical in said province or city, which shall be known as "COMELEC Space": Provided, further, That in the absence of said broadcasting station or entity, broadcasting shall be done in any radio or television station in said province or city, which shall be known as "COMELEC Time". Said time shall be allocated to the COMELEC free of charge, while said space shall be allocated to the COMELEC upon payment of just compensation. The COMELEC time and space shall be utilized exclusively by the COMELEC for public information dissemination on election-related concerns.
Sec. 9. Posting of Campaign Materials. - The COMELEC may authorize political parties and party-list groups to erect common poster areas for their candidates in not more than ten (10) public places such as plazas, markets, barangay centers and the like, wherein candidates can post display or exhibit election propaganda: Provided, That the size of the poster areas shall not exceed twelve (12) by sixteen 16) feet or its equivalent.
Independent candidates with no political parties may likewise be authorized to erect common poster areas in not more than ten (10) public places, the size of which shall not exceed four (4) by six (6) feet or its equivalent.
Candidates may post any lawful propaganda material in private places with the consent of the owner thereof, and in public places or property which shall be allocated equitably and impartially among the candidates.
Sec. 10. Right to Reply. - All registered parties and bona fide candidates shall have the right to reply to charges published against them. The 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.
Sec. 11. Rates for Political Propaganda. - During the election period, media outlets shall charge registered political parties and bona fide candidates a discounted rate of thirty percent (30%) for television, twenty percent (20%) for radio and ten percent (10%) for print over the average rates charged during the first three quarters of the calendar year preceding the elections.
Sec. 12. Substitution of Candidates. - In case of valid substitutions after the official ballots have been printed, the votes cast for the substituted candidates shall be considered as stray votes but shall not invalidate the whole ballot. For this purpose, the official ballots shall provide spaces where the voters may write the name of the substitute candidates if they are voting for the latter: Provided, however, That if the substitute candidate is of the same family name, this provision shall not apply.
Sec. 13. Authority of the COMELEC to promulgate Rules; Election Offenses. - The COMELEC shall promulgate and furnish all political parties and candidates and the mass media entities the rules and regulations for the implementation of this Act, consistent with the criteria established in Article IX-C, Section 4 of the Constitution and Section 86 of the Omnibus Election Code (Batas Pambansa Blg. 881).
Rules and regulations promulgated by the COMELEC under and by authority of this Section shall take effect on the seventh day after their publication in at least two (2) daily newspapers of general circulation. Prior to the effectivity of said rules and regulations, no political advertisement or propaganda for or against any candidate or political party shall be published or broadcast through mass media.
Violation of this Act and the rules and regulations of the COMELEC issued to implement this Act shall be an election offense punishable under the first and second paragraphs of Section 264 of the Omnibus Election Code (Batas Pambansa Blg. 881).
Sec. 14. Repealing Clause. - Sections 67 and 85 of the Omnibus Election Code (Batas Pambansa Blg. 881) and Sections 10 and 11 of Republic Act No. 6646 are hereby repealed. As a consequence, the first provision of the third paragraph of Section 11 of Republic Act No. 8436 is rendered ineffective. All laws, presidential decrees, executive orders, rules and regulations, or any part thereof inconsistent with the provisions of this Act are hereby repealed or modified or amended accordingly.
Sec. 15. Separability Clause. - If any provision or part hereof is held invalid or unconstitutional, the remainder of this Act not otherwise affected shall remain in full force and effect.
Sec. 16. Effectivity. - This Act shall take effect immediately upon its approval.
This Act which is consolidation of House Bill No. 9000 and the Senate Bill No. 1742 was finally passed by the House of Representative and the Senate on February 7, 2001.
Approved: 12 February 2001.
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