Stop interviewing officials running for May 2013 polls.
This was the suggestion of Commission on Elections (Comelec) chair Sixto Brillantes Jr. to media outfits as poll season heats up.
Brillantes said media should only ask for interviews from certain prospective candidates if they are willing to give "equal airtime" to the other aspirants for next year's mid-term polls.
"Without the media, these prospective candidates would not be exposed. Under the law, there is still no candidate that is official up to now. They become candidates only when the campaign period starts which is a very long period on February," Brillantes said.
The poll body chief lamented seeing various media networks interviewing incumbent public officials who are running for senatorial positions for news programs, which could give undue advantage over other candidates.
Brillantes, who used to be a poll lawyer, reminded media this practice contributes to cases of premature campaigning.
"I'm also making a plea to the media not to invite them over and over again again. If you want to invite prospective candidates make sure that there's a distribution of more or less equal time for each candidates," he said.
Citing the absence of a law prohibiting premature campaigning, he also addressed the plea to the conscience of candidates themselves.
Since the filing of CoCs from October 1 to 5, media outfits had been interviewing candidates who will be running for Senate in May.
Under Republic Act No. 9006, Comelec allows every TV or radio network a maximum of 120-minutes of airtime for each national candidate, for the period of two-month campaign elections from February to April.
But Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez clarified the poll body does not have a specific resolution on time limitations for broadcast political advertisements.
Early voting for media
In a related development, the poll body granted a petition that seeks early voting for media practitioners during the mid-term elections next year.
In an en banc session held at the Comelec main office in Intramuros, Manila on Tuesday morning, the poll body approved the media's request in a bid to avoid disenfranchisement over their right to suffrage.
Brillantes disclosed the local absentee voting may take form in a manual election, ordering a committee to draft implementing rules and regulations (IRR) before it will be conducted by the end of the year.
A group of media workers told Comelec commissioner Rene Sarmiento that the nature of their work prevents them from being able to vote in areas where they are registered voters.
Media reporters, photographers, and cameramen are often seen tailing political candidates or observing the actual conduct of polls in various precincts nationwide.