(Un)Fair Election Act Versus Free Speech
Euphemistically named Fair Election Act, the McCain-Feingold Act in the Philippines, is NOT fair…
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:
- Any mass media columnist, commentator, announcer, reporter, on-air correspondent or personality who is a candidate for any elective public office;
- 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?
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.”