Gov't to pay for televised presidential debates
The government should pay for airtimes to be allotted for televised debates wherein all presidential aspirants in the May 2010 national elections will participate, Senator Richard J. Gordon (Ind.) made the proposal today.
Gordon explained that televised debates would stop politicians from prematurely spending for political ads that are already clogging the airtimes though the campaign period prescribed by the Omnibus Election Code (OEC) has yet to start.
The OEC prescribes a 90-day campaign period before Election Day for national candidates. However, months before the filing of certificates of candidacy, reports said some politicians are already spending millions of pesos for television ads alone.
"Hindi naman yata tama na ang lalaki na ng gastos nung mga kumakanditong naka-anunsiyo. Kung totoo ang report, may pananagutan silang lahat. You are violating what the law prohibits. Kaya nga nilagyan tayo ng 90-day campaign period. The whole law (OEC) was formulated to make sure that nobody should be allowed to campaign before the campaign period," he said.
"Ito ang proposal ko para mawala lahat iyan. I'm proposing a bill that the government will foot all the bills for presidential candidates. But the bill will only be for a limited number of TV time, limited number of radio time, and the government must sponsor debates. Para mura ang kampanya, no more expenditures," he added.
Gordon has earlier filed Senate Bill 2079, mandating major television and radio networks to sponsor at least three national debates among presidential candidates and at least one national debate among vice presidential candidates.
Under SB 2079, he proposed that each debate shall not be less than sixty minutes, exclusive of airtime for commercials and advertisements to help the Filipino electorate get to know each presidential candidate's qualifications, his stands on issues, among others.
"The debates would also enjoin a candidate to prepare and offer for scrutiny his concrete action plans in consonance with his or her platform of government in order to weigh more favorably against the opponents," the senator said.