Skip to content

(Un)Fair Election Act Versus Free Speech

February 12, 2010

Euphemistically named Fair Election Act, the McCain-Feingold Act in the Philippines, is NOT fair…

These people also have the right to free speech!

These people also have the right to free speech!

After the notoriously corrupt Second Division of the Commission on Elections betrayed the will of the Filipino voters by replacing democratically elected governors of three provinces with three known allies of President Macapagal Arroyo, poll body officials are now threatening movie stars, celebrities, and TV personalities for endorsing their candidates.

It’s not surprising that the friars of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPRCV) supported this revolting Comelec mandate by calling on celebrities like Kris Aquino, Dolphy and Willie Revillame, and so on to go on leave from their television shows if they continue to endorse candidates.

The PPCRV said the euphemistically named Fair Election Act made it mandatory for actors, columnists and other mass media personalities endorsing candidates to resign or take a leave from their TV shows or media outfits during the campaign period. Because of this, the Comelec said it was prepared to execute this ‘non-objective’ and unconstitutional provision of the Act. I said it’s non-objective because it only singles out move stars, celebrities and television personalities. It is unconstitutional because such provision is violative of the celebrities’ and TV personalities’ right to free speech.

“Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both…” — Benjamin Franklin

According to a Philippine Daily Inquirer report, the Comelec will ask media personalities who are campaigning for a politician to take a leave from work, or compel their employers to make them take some time off. Ferdinand Rafanan, Comelec law department director, said “endorsing is campaigning.”

Section 6 (6.6) of the Fair Election Act or Republic Act No. 9006 states: “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.”

What kind of media personalities does this non-objective and unconstitutional Act include? They are the following:

  1. Any mass media columnist, commentator, announcer, reporter, on-air correspondent or personality who is a candidate for any elective public office;
  2. Any mass media columnist, commentator, announcer, reporter, on-air correspondent or personality who is a campaign volunteer for or employed or retained in any capacity by any candidate or political party.

According to that non-objective and unconstitutional provision of the Act, these two types of media personalities who engage in the aforementioned prohibited acts shall be deemed (a) resigned, if so required by their employer, or shall (b) take a leave of absence from his/her work as such during the campaign period.

The Comelec argued that said provision is intended to prevent any candidate from benefiting unduly from the exposure of the media personality endorsing him or her.

Really? What about their rights to free speech and to campaign for their candidates? Why single out this particular social sector by virtue of their success and status in our society? Is this not in contravention with the Constitutional guarantee of free speech and equality under the law?

I may not be comfortable with the politics of Noynoy, but Kris Aquino has the right to endorse her brother and to free speech!

I may not be comfortable with the politics of Noynoy, but Kris Aquino has the right to endorse her brother and to free speech!

While this Fair Election Act purportedly seeks to promote fairness in electoral campaigns and processes, it deprives celebrities and media personalities of their rights to free speech and their jobs. Why punish these media personalities for their success and social status? For just being a “campaign volunteer” for any candidate, media personalities and celebrities will be asked to go on leave, otherwise they would face the full force of the law. Yes, apart from temporarily losing their job, violators of this Act may also face a criminal case as stated under Section 13, paragraph 3 of the Act. Click here to find out what will happen to media personalities and celebrities who violate this Act.

Aquilino Pimentel Jr., who was the Senate President at the time this Act was passed and approved in 2001, along with Feliciano Belmonte Jr., who was the House Speaker and the authors of House Bill No. 9000 and Senate Bill No. 1742, are traitors of our liberty and rights. These political mammals who sacrificed “a little liberty” to “gain a little security” do not deserve our votes!

Angeli Valenciano, wife of singer Gary Valenciano, made a very interesting remark in an Inquirer report. Angeli says, “Did (American TV show hosts) Oprah (Winfrey) and Ellen DeGeneres lose their shows on account of their presidential candidates? This is a democratic country and celebrities have the right to choose their candidates.”

I must agree that in America, celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, Ellen Degeneres, Matt Damon, and Celine Dion were able to support and endorse their candidates without facing any legal sanction. Winfrey and Degeneres were not cowed to give up their jobs for endorsing now President Barack Obama. But that’s America. The Americans clearly understood the concept and essence of individual rights. We don’t! But I really feel pity for Angeli for saying that since the Philippines is a “democratic country,” celebrities have the right to choose their candidates.

That’s precisely the problem! We have been taught by our teaches and professors, as well us our absurd intellectuals, that the Philippines is a “democratic country.” We face constitutional perils and destructions of our rights because of the notion that democracy is a noble idea. Democracy is nothing but an EVIL idea! But it seems that nobody in this country recognizes the fact that democracy is a mythical idea that must be rejected. Yes, the Constitution states, under Section 1, Article II that “The Philippines is a democratic and republican State. Sovereignity resides in the people and all government authority emanates from them” (emphasis added).

Democracy simply means “mob rule” or “rule of the majority.” This means that the majority can vote and abrogate our rights like what is happening today. Democracy is an evil idea conceived in ancient Greece. History tells us that the first victim of “democracy” was Socrates who was condemned by the people to death because of his influence on the youth. This country must be and ought to be a Republican state, period! In one of my previous blogs I stated before the following:

“The words “republican” and “democratic” are two distinct terms, bearing different meanings and denotations. This is one example of Philippine departure from the American constitution. Federalist papers show that the framers of the American Constitution refused to use the word democratic to describe the political system of the United States not merely because it is vague, but also because it was not their intention to establish a democratic state. According to James Madison, his idea of a republican state does not mean popular democracy in which power is left in the hands of the people. In a true republican state, political power is delegated through popular elections to elected officials, thereby providing a shielding barrier from reckless or injudicious mob governance.”

At this point in time we should look at the United States of America, the fountainhead of liberty and individual rights on earth, for rational guidance. In Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, decided on January 21 this year, the US Supreme Court in a landmark 5-t0-4 decision ruled that corporate funding of independent political broadcasts in candidate elections cannot be limited, because doing so would be in noncompliance with the First Amendment. The decision resulted from the non-profit corporation Citizens United’s case before the court regarding whether the group’s critical film about Hillary Clinton could be defined as a campaign advertisement under the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, commonly known as the McCain-Feingold Act.

The majority opinion penned by Justice Kennedy states in part:”If the First Amendment has any force, it prohibits Congress from fining or jailing citizens, or associations of citizens, for simply engaging in political speech.”

Under Section 6 (6.6) of the Fair Election Act, any media personalities or celebrities who endorse and campaign for their candidates may be penalized under the law. Such provision also deprives any media personalities not only of their right to free speech, but of their right to their means of livelihood as well. A man’s right to free speech cannot be the subject of any legal abridgment. Our right to free speech cannot be abrogated by any edict, law, or directive for any reason, unless such an act or speech violates the rights of others or is dangerous to national security. Free speech is the very hallmark of a free society.

America achieved its global status because of the noblest ideals of its Founding Fathers. It is very disappointing that we Filipinos fail to understand the very concept and essence of American Liberty and individual rights.

Yaron Brook of the Ayn Rand Institute made a very brilliant remark on the McCain-Feingold Act, which is the Filipino version of this infamous Fair Election Act. Brook States:

“It’s true that in a free system, money does give you a greater ability to get your message out; this is precisely one of the reasons it’s desirable to earn wealth. If this is what campaign finance advocates regard as corrupt, which system would they regard as uncorrupt? One in which a person’s ability to promote his viewpoint is unrelated to the financial resources he’s earned (whether personally or through voluntary contributions).

“This is why campaign finance advocates have not been appeased by McCain-Feingold, and are calling for complete public financing of political elections. Under such a system, candidates would no longer have to financially earn the platform from which they speak; instead, the government would furnish candidates with your tax dollars. Of course, not every potential candidate could receive public funding under such a system: Only “serious” candidates would.

“Who decides which candidate is serious? Those presently holding government power. There is no surer way to create a political aristocracy in America.”

RELATED BLOG ARTICLES:

In Defense of Celebrities Versus (Un)Fair Election Act

Blogs on 2010 Elections

31 Comments leave one →
  1. Janna Santos permalink
    February 12, 2010 3:38

    Democracy is not for the filipinos. period. If majority of the people here, like say 70-80% are uneducated, then the remaining 20-30% will suffer because of the decisions of the uneducated.

    • February 12, 2010 3:38

      Yes, in a democracy, the majority can vote against the rights and even the life of a particular person or a group of people. It’s socialism/communist at best! And this is what most Filipinos and most people the world over cannot understand. But I do not have any problem with “democracy” in electoral process, which means the people have the right to vote and campaign for their candidates regardless of their social status.

  2. Roi permalink
    February 12, 2010 3:38

    The issue at hand is very plain and simple. Hold your judgment and control your blood pressure rush.

    “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.”

    As stated in your recital of facts, this is embodied in section 6 (6.6) of the Fair Election Act or Republic Act No. 9006. In other words, there is a law backing the regulation of COMELEC. COMELEC did not craft this on their own nor did they unearth it from somewhere, so don’t blame the poor institution. That is barking at the wrong tree. The Constitution mandates them to implement election laws, and so implement they do.

    Any concern/s against the said provision should have been aired before it was passed into a Republic Act – a law. I wonder where these complaining people were and what have they been doing when the “fair election bill” was still being deliberated in congress.

    In any case, I think the only recourse of these noble people now is to challenge its ground in the Supreme Court. That is a noble service to the Filipino nation as it will surely enrich Philippine Jurisprudence. However, to argue that the provision violates the individual’s suffrage, that is stupidity. No one is pointing a gun at them not to exercise such. More importantly, for me, there is no violation of right to free speech here. Where in the provision do you see “do not endorse, do not campaign”. We are in a democratic society and so we enjoy free speech. But no individual freedom nor right enshrined in our constitution is absolute and beyond the reach of any regulation.

    US has its own laws, and so does the Philippines. We may copy laws of other nations, but we do not borrow.

    Dura lex sed lex. The law may be harsh, but that is the law. In the same vein, the law may be stupid but that is the law.

    • February 12, 2010 3:38

      There is a law but the question is, is it objective and does it violate anyone’s right to free speech? I have stated clearly my point on the matter in my article above.
      Like I stated: “Under Section 6 (6.6) of the Fair Election Act, any media personalities or celebrities who endorse and campaign for their candidates may be penalized under the law. Such provision also deprives any media personalities not only of their right to free speech, but of their right to their means of livelihood as well. A man’s right to free speech cannot be the subject of any legal abridgment. Our right to free speech cannot be abrogated by any edict, law, or directive for any reason, unless such an act or speech violates the rights of others or is dangerous to national security. Free speech is the very hallmark of a free society.”
      If a corrupt Congress passed a certain non-objective and unconstitutional law that is violative of our rights, we cannot simply say “there is a law backing the regulation” of any government agency. Any Act, edict or directive that breaches our fundamental rights (e.i. rights to free speech or peaceably assemble) is unconstitutional that must be invalidated by our Court.
      The very reason why our Country does not improve is because we give up our rights to government controls and regulations. Like Benjamin Franklin said, “Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.”

  3. Roi permalink
    February 12, 2010 3:38

    The Fair Election Act does not state that”any media personalities or celebrities who endorse and campaign for their candidates may be penalized”. No. It simply says – in layman’s terms – take a leave of absence if you will campaign and endorse a candidate. Because in truth, a celebrity becomes a candidate’s (sort of) “mascot” once he actively campaigns or endorses him. And whenever people see these “mascot” on TV, that is already campaigning which gives the candidate undue advantage while the others at the losing end. Reality check, what comes to your mind whenever you see Ronald Mcdonald?

    The rationale of the law is to level the playing field, give right to all candidates equal public exposure. As the law says, if an act infringes the others, that is abuse. And abuse is what the law frowns at.

    “The very reason why our Country does not improve is because we give up our rights to government controls and regulations.” – So if the Supreme Court resolves the issue and upholds the law as it is, what will you do?

  4. February 12, 2010 3:38

    Roi, you said: “The Fair Election Act does not state that”any media personalities or celebrities who endorse and campaign for their candidates may be penalized.” Please read the Act again.

    Section 13 par. 3 of the Act states the penal provision, to wit: “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).”

    This means that you must apply the provisions of this Act in relation to Sec. 264 of B.P. 881. The following is what the first and second paragraphs of B.P. 881 states:

    Sec. 264. Penalties. – Any person found guilty of any election offense under this Code shall be punished with imprisonment of not less than one year but not more than six years and shall not be subject to probation. In addition, the guilty party shall be sentenced to suffer disqualification to hold public office and deprivation of the right of suffrage. If he is a foreigner, he shall be sentenced to deportation which shall be enforced after the prison term has been served. Any political party found guilty shall be sentenced to pay a fine of not less than ten thousand pesos, which shall be imposed upon such party after criminal action has been instituted in which their corresponding officials have been found guilty.

    “In case of prisoner or prisoners illegally released from any penitentiary or jail during the prohibited period as provided in Section 261, paragraph (n) of this Code, the director of prisons, provincial warden, keeper of the jail or prison, or persons who are required by law to keep said prisoner in their custody shall, if convicted by a competent court, be sentenced to suffer the penalty of prision mayor in its maximum period if the prisoner or prisoners so illegally released commit any act of intimidation, terrorism of interference in the election.”

    This means that any mass media columnist, commentator, announcer, reporter, on-air correspondent or personality who violates “this Act and the rules and regulations of the COMELEC issued to implement this Act” may be punished with “imprisonment of not less than one year but not more than six years and shall not be subject to probation.”

    So apart from the above mentioned provisions, Section 6(6.6) of R.A. 9006 provides that “any mass media columnist, commentator, announcer, reporter, on-air correspondent or personality” (a) who is a candidate for any elective public office (I have no problem with this) or is a campaign volunteer for (this is the most important part of the Section) or employed or retained in any capacity by any elective candidate 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.”

    Can’t you see that several media personalities have been asked by the Comelec and PPRCV to go on leave for merely supporting or even campaigning for their candidates? This means that if they continue with what they’re doing, they may be subjected to a legal case for violating this Act in pursuant to the provisions of the Omnibus Election Code.

    Again, this provision must be repealed along with other provisions of the Act which are non-consonant with our rights!

  5. Roi permalink
    February 12, 2010 3:38

    Pardon me to say that in my view, there is a slight misinterpretation and over-reaction here.

    Does the law say “celebrities – once you endrose, you commit a crime”? Does it say so?

    It only says that, sure the celebrities are free to endorse – either for free or for a fee – the hell does the law care. BUT, BUT, BUT, BUT, they should do that outside their job. Now, how can we make sure that the celebrety’s campaign and endorsement will not be mixed up with his job as a TV personality? What is the remedy available to the other candidates in our law if for example – Kris Aquino in one of her chismis interviews will exclaim out of nowhere “please vote my bro because he is very kind and I want to be first lady”? Obviously, that is campaigning for free. And because of that, Noy edges out other candidates just because he has celebrity for a sister and the others don’t. Isn’t that unfair for the other candidates?

    Please, let us not misinterpret the law. It does not take away the liberty of celebrities to choose and endorse. But since these people enjoy celebrity status, they have more precautions to take into account. Their options are very simple:
    1) You will endorse, but take a leave of absence, or
    2) You will stay where you are, but do not endorse

    It is also a very sound measure so celebrities will not make endorsement a way of living. Presidentcy is not like a can of sardines that ones endorsed, the responsibility of the endorser stops. And about getting paid, do you honestly believe that these endorsers do not get any reward (monetary or otherwise) for campaigning the candidate? Maybe not now and maybe some of them because they are relatives, but what about the rest? Reality is, it is a general notion that endorsers get paid. To say that they did’nt is a very difficult task to prove.

    To make it easier, why do you think did GMA 7 issue a guideline to support the regulation of COMELEC? Simple, because they saw credence in the law. And ABS CBN is not applying the same for some reasons I do not understand. Maybe they just dare to be bold and different with the rival network as they always do. (Please – spare me with their usual argument based on technicality. That is the lamest of all). And even if they do have a good reason, why do you think according to Kris Aquino she could not wear yellow except on her bday based on ABSCBN policy? Does it not violate her constitutional right for freedom of expression?

    • February 12, 2010 3:38

      Roi, the law is clear. It enumerates those who can’t campaign for their candidates. The Act states that “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).”

      It is clear that there is no legal precedent that may explain this matter, but that’s the provision of the Act, otherwise the law is toothless. What’s the use of this law if it’s still OK for a media personality to continue with his/her show while voluntarily campaigning for his/her candidate without taking a leave? Is this not in violation of the Act?

      My point is this, everybody has the right to endorse his/her candidate regardless of his/her social status. Kris has the right to campaign for his brother and Mar Roxas without being asked to go on leave or give up her job. Willie Revillame also has the right to campaign for Manny Villar and keep his show. Everybody has the right to campaign for his/her candidate and there should be no law banning such right. But that’s the contentious provision of Section 6(6.6) of the Act! It compels “any mass media columnist, commentator, announcer, reporter, on-air correspondent or personality” to go on leave for voluntarily “campaigning” for his/her candidate. The Act forces/coerces these media personalities who campaign for or support their political choices to “temporarily” give up their job.

      You said: “why do you think did GMA 7 issue a guideline to support the regulation of COMELEC? Simple, because they saw credence in the law. And ABS CBN is not applying the same for some reasons I do not understand.”

      Simple. Because the big bosses of GMA 7 are hypocrites and that they are afraid of the government. In the first place, the media personalities should be the ones to file a petition for review with the Supreme Court. I am very much sure that the SC will invalidate that particular provision of the Act for being unconstitutional.

      • February 12, 2010 3:38

        Also the point is this: why is it that the Iglesia Ni Kristo can endorse and even impose upon its members to “block vote” and Makati Business Club can support candidates without the risk of losing their church or businesses, while media personalities are deprived of this same right? Why single out a particular group of people? Well, you can simply say if the government imposed the same law on churches, that you be in violation of their religious rights! Fine! But what about the right to free speech of media personalities?

  6. Roi permalink
    February 12, 2010 3:38

    About the TV networks, I wont argue because I think you have other issue with GMA7. To reiterate my point will not go anywhere. I am not biased to any TV station. I am just trying to give an objective point.

    Now enters “INC block vote” issue. I think you gave a sound answer to your own question. Separation of Church and State. The constitution protects the independence of all churches irrespective of denomination. The law recognizes churches as an entity, not as a sector. And that entity is outside the scope of the law of the land.

    Anyway, I think I have made my point. You made your opinion and that is fine though unacceptable for me. I hope I also brought my thoughts across. We don’t necessarily have to agree and reach a concensus because as Madam Miriam once said “kanya kanyang isip at haka-haka yan at kanya kanyang yabang”. In the end, it is the Supreme Court that would decide on this. Whatever the decision will be doesn’t mean it is the correct one. The Court is called supreme not because it is superior, but only because it has the final say. Afterall, law is not an exact science, hence it is subjective.
    🙂

    • February 12, 2010 3:38

      “Now enters “INC block vote” issue. I think you gave a sound answer to your own question. Separation of Church and State. The constitution protects the independence of all churches irrespective of denomination. The law recognizes churches as an entity, not as a sector. And that entity is outside the scope of the law of the land.”

      While the doctrine of “separation of church and state” led to peaceful coexistence among religions, I do believe that the rights of an individual is paramount to the rights of any entity, mystical or social, juridical or political. In a true republican society, the standard of value is the individual. The right of an individual must not be lower in degree or extent than the right of a church or a group. We cannot demand the government to deprive other sectors (e.i. the media personalities) of their right to endorse or campaign for their candidates. This is the essence of individual rights and equality under the law, concepts that we borrowed from the Americans. What does this law mean? It means that the government would like to protect the people against their stupidity and idiocy! This law is funny and pathetic.

      If the government sought to ban “celebrity influence” by passing this Fair Election Act, then it must also prevent religions and organizations from endorsing candidates! Who’s more influential, Kris Aquino or the high priest of the Iglesia ni Cristo? Who’s more influential, Dolphy or the high priest of Ang Dating Daan or Cardinal Rosales? It is pretty clear that the intent of this law is to eliminate “celebrity influence” so to allegedly level the playing field, but what about the biggest king-makers in the country such as religions, businessmen, organizations, etc.? Yes, those who authored this unconstitutional law were afraid of religions and big organizations. Yes, this law seeks to single out top media personalities and celebrities simply because they are successful.

      It is pretty clear that the target of this non-objective, unconstitutional Act is the freedom of a certain group of individuals- their freedom to campaign for their candidates and to speak freely without the risk of being ask to “go on leave” or give up their jobs. Anyone who does not understand the evil of this Act is an IDIOT!

      • Roi permalink
        February 12, 2010 3:38

        I fully understand this particular law but I do not see any evil in it. And I resent to be called an idiot as your pun suggests. Differences in opinion is normal in a normal society of normal people. Live with it, deal with it. Civilized, educated and cultured people demonstrate proper decorum and respect in situations of conflicts, disagreements and varying views. Hitting below the belt is simply unnecessary, barbaric and nothing but an act of an IDIOT.

  7. Roi permalink
    February 12, 2010 3:38

    I fully understand this particular law but I do not see any evil in it. And I resent to be called an idiot as your pun suggests. Differences in opinion is normal in a normal society of normal people. Live with it, deal with it. Civilized, educated and cultured people demonstrate proper decorum and respect in situations of conflictsm disagreements and varying views. Hitting below the belt is simply unnecessary, barbaric and nothing but an act of an IDIOT.

  8. Roi permalink
    February 12, 2010 3:38

    While democracy gives us the right to free speech, it also gives us the right to be heard. Nobody has the monopoly of knowledge in any field, much less in law. Even people who may not be learned in law also has the right to interpret it and based on that, formulate his opinion. Nobody is given the right to make people concur with his own view. Anybody who does that is IGNORANT of what democracy is all about.

    • February 12, 2010 3:38

      Read the article if you didn’t read it. I stated:

      Democracy simply means “mob rule” or “rule of the majority.” This means that the majority can vote and abrogate our rights like what is happening today. Democracy is an evil idea conceived in ancient Greece. History tells us that the first victim of “democracy” was Socrates who was condemned by the people to death because of his influence on the youth. This country must be and ought to be a Republican state, period! In one of my previous blogs I stated before the following:

      “The words “republican” and “democratic” are two distinct terms, bearing different meanings and denotations. This is one example of Philippine departure from the American constitution. Federalist papers show that the framers of the American Constitution refused to use the word democratic to describe the political system of the United States not merely because it is vague, but also because it was not their intention to establish a democratic state. According to James Madison, his idea of a republican state does not mean popular democracy in which power is left in the hands of the people. In a true republican state, political power is delegated through popular elections to elected officials, thereby providing a shielding barrier from reckless or injudicious mob governance.”

      • February 12, 2010 3:38

        Yes, many people in this country like YOU are ignorant about the true concept of democracy. That democracy is simply MYTH and EVIL!

  9. monetarist permalink
    February 13, 2010 3:38

    The Fair Election Act was passed in 2001. Some of the current candidates for the upcoming elections were also lawmakers during the passage of this law. It would be revealing to see how they voted for the passage of this law. If they did vote for the passage of this law then they have no right to complain. So please would someone do the research and see who voted for it? Beleive me, some of them will be eating their own words!

    • February 13, 2010 3:38

      Yes, I was doing a research, googling those who really authored and voted for the two bills that were consolidated into this Fair Election Act. It will be interesting to know if those shouting their heads off today are the hypocrites who really voted and pushed for this bill…

  10. Enrico Navea permalink
    February 13, 2010 3:38

    Is rights absolute? Can the government regulate those rights?
    If rights is absolute and if the government cannot regulate the rights of individuals, then the Constitution of the Philippines is inconsistent and has a lot of conflicting provisions.

    Government employees as an individual has the right to freedom to express and freedom of speech and yet the Constitution prohibit them to campaign for their candidates.

    Now, you said celebrities are being single out? Then, what about government employees? Since 1986, government employees are prohibited to campaign, directly or indirectly, for any candidates else they will be removed from their job. Are celebrities being single out?

    YOu might say that celebrities are not government employees. But you said in your article “In a free society, no one must be singled out by any law, edict or directive. But in this country, there is a law that prohibits celebrities and media personalities to voluntarily campaign for their candidates.”

    Celebrities are not prohibited to campaign but they should not use their program to campaign for their candidates. Willie Revillame is a good example, he keeps wearing orange t-shirts during his show which indirectly endorsing Villar in his program. Is it fair to other candidates who have no money to get the services of these celebrities? The objective of the law is to have a fair election. We should appreciate Chairman Melo for implementing this law.

    For celebrities complaining about this law, don’t blame COMELEC…they are just there to implement the law. The law was crafted by our Representatives and Senators, they should be blamed. You may go to Supreme Court to question the law, but for the meantime, follow the law.

    • February 13, 2010 3:38

      Enrico, you said: “Is rights absolute? Can the government regulate those rights?
      If rights is absolute and if the government cannot regulate the rights of individuals, then the Constitution of the Philippines is inconsistent and has a lot of conflicting provisions.”

      The Objectivist definition of rights, which is in essence a Republican definition, is the following:

      “A “right” is a moral principle defining and sanctioning a man’s freedom of action in a social context. There is only one fundamental right (all the others are its consequences or corollaries): a man’s right to his own life. Life is a process of self-sustaining and self-generated action; the right to life means the right to engage in self-sustaining and self-generated action—which means: the freedom to take all the actions required by the nature of a rational being for the support, the furtherance, the fulfillment and the enjoyment of his own life. (Such is the meaning of the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.)

      “The concept of a “right” pertains only to action—specifically, to freedom of action. It means freedom from physical compulsion, coercion or interference by other men.

      “Thus, for every individual, a right is the moral sanction of a positive—of his freedom to act on his own judgment, for his own goals, by his own voluntary, uncoerced choice. As to his neighbors, his rights impose no obligations on them except of a negative kind: to abstain from violating his rights.”

      A right is absolute in the sense that you are entitled to such right as a human being and as an individual in a free society. No one has the right to deprive you of your rights, not even the government. But what kind of right is absolute? These are the rights enumerated under Article I (bill of rights) of our 1987 constitution. Article III, Section 1 is the paramount of all rights, to wit: “No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws.”

      This right must be and ought to be absolute and cannot be abridged or limited by any political edict, directive or law. However, the government must step in and intervene if there’s violation of individual rights. This is the only instance wherein the government must use its power to protect our rights, otherwise our country would be gradually reduced to anarchy or mob rule.

      Article III, Section 2 is also absolute, as it states, to wit: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures of whatever nature and for any purpose shall be inviolable, and no search warrant or warrant of arrest shall issue except upon probable cause to be determined personally by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.” The bill of rights, which enumerates the rights of every individual, must be and ought to be absolute and cannot be violated by the government.

      Yes, I must agree with you that the Constitution is full of inconsistencies, philosophical contradictions, and absurd provisions, but the bill of rights which we borrowed from the Americans is the most important part of our charter. In my previous blog entitled “The Moral Base of the Filipino Nation and Philippine’s Intellectual Bankruptcy“, I stated that “contains a number of socialist and populist provisions. My observation of the current charter is this—it is a mixture of individualist and socialist premises bordering on dictatorship.”

      But since the focus of your question is about the absolute nature of rights, I must say that it is absolute and the government has no right at all to limit it for any arbitrary and non-objective reason. If you violated the right of your neighbor, you cannot be penalized or imprisoned without a day in court and that you have the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. But then you said, “If rights is absolute and if the government cannot regulate the rights of individuals, then the Constitution of the Philippines is inconsistent and has a lot of conflicting provisions.”

      Rights are absolute in the sense that they must be consistent with your nature and rights as a human being. If your right to your life is limited or denied by the government, then all other rights is also limited, is no possible or cannot be exercised. But I know where you’re coming from. Do you mean to say we can do whatever we want since I stated here that right is absolute? You have the right to your own life, but you don’t have the right to take the life of your neighbor. However, we have adopted the noble doctrine of self-defense, which holds that you must hold your ground when in the right. That when somebody wants to kill you, you cannot simply retreat to the ground. You have to defend your life against your aggressor because it would be immoral if you let your killer take your life for no reason at all without defending your self.

      You have the right to your property, but you don’t have the right to take away the property of others. That’s why in a Republican or a free society, we have a system that protects individual rights. We have a legal system to protect us against thieves, murderers, and anyone who attempts to commit any from of infraction or crime. We have the Court to settle disputes, breach of contract, among others. We have the police force to protect the defenseless against those who initiate the use of force. We have the military to protect us against rebellion or invasion. Essentially it is the only role of the government to protect individual rights and not limit or destroy them. Is right absolute? Absolutely yes, but you don’t have the absolute right to invade or breach the “absolute” rights of your neighbor, otherwise you have to face the full force of the law.

      You said: “YOu might say that celebrities are not government employees. But you said in your article “In a free society, no one must be singled out by any law, edict or directive. But in this country, there is a law that prohibits celebrities and media personalities to voluntarily campaign for their candidates.”

      I have explained this in my answer to your question in my other blog article. I have also clearly explained why I am opposed to this Act. That’s why this euphemistically named Fair Election Law must be invalidated by the Supreme Court and we should know who authored the bills that we consolidated into this Act and who supported or voted for them.

      Like I stated in my other blog: “The right of an individual must not be lower in degree or extent than the right of a church or a group. We cannot demand the government to deprive other sectors (e.i. the media personalities) of their right to endorse or campaign for their candidates. This is the essence of individual rights and equality under the law, concepts that we borrowed from the Americans. What does this law mean? It means that the government would like to protect the people against their stupidity and idiocy! This law is funny and pathetic.”

  11. Enrico Navea permalink
    February 13, 2010 3:38

    I believe that freedom of speech and freedom of the press are not absolute. The Supreme Court, in a number of cases, has allowed the regulation of the exercise of these freedom concerning election-related laws. And I dont believe that celebrities’ freedom of expression has been curtailed by the Fair Election Act. They are still free to campaign for their candidates, they are free to endorse their candidates, whether voluntary or with pay. Provided, they should take a leave of absence while campaigning for a candidate in order to give equal opportunity to those candidates who cannot afford to have a celebrity endorsers. This is the purpose of the law.

    I have seen Willie Revillame using his own TV program to promote Villar’s candidacy. This is unfair to all candidates. This is the reason why there is Fair Election Act. Willie Revillame, being a paid endorser of Villar, should go on leave until the end of the campaign period.

    I also believe that COMELEC should issue a clear guidelines regarding this matter. For example, celebrities who performed in the campaign to entertain the people should not be compelled to take a leave except if they speak during the campaign and endorse the candidate. However, celebrities who are openly endorsing candidates in any political ads should be required to take a leave of absence from their TV shows.

    I believe that this is not curtailment of freedom of the press or speech.

    • February 13, 2010 3:38

      All rights are absolute. What you said is a relativist point of view of rights. The relativist point of view means nothing is absolute. That rights are not absolute. A right must be absolute, otherwise it can be a subject of compromise, modification or limitation. When I said that a right, say, right to free speech, is absolute, this same right cannot be breached by the government arbitrarily without any valid ground.

      What I am doing right now- which is blogging- is absolute. It means that I am absolutely exercising my right to free speech. Right is and must be absolute, otherwise it is incomplete. But that doesn’t mean that you have the right to breach or violate the rights of others, otherwise you must face the full force of the law. What I’m saying is premised on the fundamental law of logic: The Law of Identity and the Law of Causality. Law of Identity means “you cannot eat your cake and have it too.” The Law of Causality means “you must bear the consequences of your act.” If you kill somebody because you misunderstood my point that “right is absolute,” therefore you assumed that you have the absolute right to kill your neighbor, then you must face the ultimate consequence of your idiocy.

      “I have seen Willie Revillame using his own TV program to promote Villar’s candidacy. This is unfair to all candidates.”

      Yes, he is promoting Villar, but that doesn’t mean that the government can now step in to regulate Willie Revillame’s right by threatening him to “go on leave.” But what is clear is that the government cannot regulate the minds of Willie’s viewers. That’s why I said, this bill presumes that Filipino voters are stupid that they must be guarded against “celebrity influence.” If it is influence that the government seeks to regulate, then what about the high priest of Iglesia ni Cristo who’s imposing on his members a block vote policy? How about other religions and groups? How about the king-makers who are more influential than celebrities. If this is the case, why not regulate all influence peddlers and not simply single out the celebrities?

      No, Enrico, the government cannot control your mind. When you watched Willie endorsing Manny Villar, were you influenced by him? If not, then that means you are NOT STUPID! See? The purpose of this law is to guard people against their purported STUPIDITY. Yes, this law was authored by political idiots who thought the Filipino people are not capable of making personal decisions and valid choices. Capisce?

  12. Enrico Navea permalink
    February 14, 2010 3:38

    “When I said that a right, say, right to free speech, is absolute, this same right cannot be breached by the government arbitrarily without any valid ground.”

    That is your statement. If rights can be breached with valid grounds, then rights is not absolute. Even right to live is not absolute. The government may take your life if you commit crime that is punishable by death.

    • February 14, 2010 3:38

      “That is your statement. If rights can be breached with valid grounds, then rights is not absolute. Even right to live is not absolute. The government may take your life if you commit crime that is punishable by death.”

      You have to know more the concept of rights then get back to me.

  13. March 10, 2010 3:38

    GR8 Blog, You must have spent a lot of time researching this, TY.

  14. March 10, 2010 3:38

    I really like your writing style, its not generic and extremly long and tedious like a lot of blog posts I read, you get to the point and I really enjoy reading your articles! Oh, and merry Christmas!

Trackbacks

  1. In Defense of Celebrities Versus (Un)Fair Election Act « VINCENTON POST
  2. Are Rights Absolute? « THE VINCENTON POST
  3. It’s Democratic, Stupid! « THE VINCENTON POST
  4. VIDEO: Why Democracy is EVIL « THE VINCENTON POST
  5. Ex-CJ Puno’s Charter Change Proposal: A Constitutional Insanity! « THE VINCENTON POST

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: