Score this round for Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Tuesday said it was not in a position to stop the boxing match between Pacquiao and American Timothy Bradley in the United States on April 9.
“That is not really within our control,” Comelec Chair Andres Bautista said when asked if the poll agency would allow the fight to push through.
“We are not in a position right now to stop it,” he added, citing three reasons—there has been no formal complaint, the fight has not happened and there is no “justiciable controversy” in Pacquiao’s case.
Bautista said the poll body came out with a unanimous decision on letting Pacquiao, the current congressman from Sarangani, fight.
No formal complaint
“The Comelec en banc today decided that, number one, there was really no formal complaint filed in accordance with Comelec rules and procedures… we will act if and when a complaint is filed,” Bautista said.
Former Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello and former Sen. Rene Saguisag had both written the Comelec earlier, urging the poll agency to decide if the boxing match would violate election rules since it would be televised nationally and occur in the middle of the campaign period.
Bello, himself a senatorial candidate, said the fight would give Pacquiao an “undue advantage” over his rivals for a Senate seat.
Bautista said Bello’s and Saguisag’s letters were forwarded to the Comelec law department, which made the recommendations to the en banc.
“No. 2, the fight has not actually occurred yet. And no. 3, the Comelec en banc believes that there is, as of this point, no justiciable controversy since the fight has not happened yet,” Bautista said.
In effect, the chair said the Comelec was technically not allowing Pacquiao’s fight but was only not acting on complaints against him.
Rights and obligations
Pacquiao’s counsel, Romulo Macalintal, said in a statement following the Comelec decision: “It’s better that way. The Comelec should presume that all concerned parties know their rights and obligations. Like other candidates, Pacquiao is expected to know and follow the rules.”
Earlier, Pacquiao’s lawyers told the Comelec the boxing match would not give him an undue advantage over the other senatorial candidates since the bout would run for a maximum of 36 minutes. This is broken down into 12 rounds of three minutes each.
The Comelec allows national candidates 120 minutes of ad time on television and 180 minutes on radio.