Republic Act No. 9006
AN ACT TO ENHANCE THE HOLDING OF FREE, ORDERLY, HONEST,
PEACEFUL AND CREDIBLE ELECTIONS THROUGH FAIR ELECTION PRACTICES
Date: 12 February 2001
Section 1. Short Title. - This Act shall be known as the "Fair Elections Act".
Sec. 2. Declaration of Principles. - The State shall, during the election period, supervise or regulate the enjoyment or utilization of all franchises or permits for the operation of media of communication or information to guarantee or ensure equal opportunity for public service, including access to media time and space, and the equitable right to reply, for public information campaigns and fora among candidates and assure free, orderly, honest. peaceful and credible elections.
The State shall ensure that bona fide candidates for any public office shall be free from any form of harassment and discrimination.
Sec. 3. Lawful Election Propaganda. - Election propaganda whether on television, cable television, radio, newspapers or any other medium is hereby allowed for all registered political parties, national, regional, sectoral parties or organizations participating under the party-list elections and for all bona fide candidates seeking national and local elective positions subject to the limitation on authorized expenses of candidates and political parties, observance of truth in advertising and to the supervision and regulation by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC).
For the purpose of this Act, lawful election propaganda shall include:
Pamphlets, leaflets, cards, decals, stickers or other written or printed materials the size of which does not exceed eight and one-half inches in width and fourteen inches in length;
Handwritten or printed letters urging voters to vote for or against any particular political party or candidate for public office;
Cloth, paper or cardboard posters whether framed, or posted, with an area not exceeding two (2) feet by three (3) feet, except that, at the site and on the occasion of a public meeting or rally, or in announcing the holding of said meeting or rally, streamers not exceeding three (3) feet by eight (8) feet in size, shall be allowed: Provided, That said streamers may be displayed five (5) days before the date of the meeting or rally and shall be removed within twenty-four (24) hours after said meeting or rally;
Paid advertisements in print or broadcast media: Provided, That the advertisements shall follow the requirements set forth in Section 4 of this Act; and
All other forms of election propaganda not prohibited by the Omnibus Election Code or this Act.
Sec. 4. Requirements for Published or Printed and Broadcast Election Propaganda. -
Any newspaper, newsletter, newsweekly, gazette or magazine advertising, posters, pamphlets, comic books, circulars, handbills, bumper stickers, streamers, simple list of candidates or any published or printed political matter and any broadcast of election propaganda by television or radio for or against a candidate or group of candidates to any public office shall bear and be identified by the reasonably legible or audible words "political advertisement paid for," followed by the true and correct name and address of the candidate or party for whose benefit the election propaganda was printed or aired.
If the broadcast is given free of charge by the radio or television station, it shall be identified by the words "airtime for this broadcast was provided free of charge by" followed by the true and correct name and address of the broadcast entity.
Print, broadcast or outdoor advertisements donated to the candidate or political party shall not be printed, published, broadcast or exhibited without the written acceptance by the said candidate or political party. Such written acceptance shall be attached to the advertising contract and shall be submitted to the COMELEC as provided in Subsection 6.3 hereof.
Sec. 5. Election Surveys. -
Election surveys refer to the measurement of opinions and perceptions of the voters as regards a candidate's popularity, qualifications, platforms or a matter of public discussion in relation to the election, including voters' preference for candidates or publicly discussed issues during the campaign period (hereafter referred to as "Survey").
During the election period, any person, natural as well as juridical, candidate or organization who publishes a survey must likewise publish the following information:
- The name of the person, candidate, party or organization who commissioned or paid for the survey;
- The name of the person, polling firm or survey organization who conducted the survey;
- The period during which the survey was conducted, the methodology used, including the number of individual respondents and the areas from which they were selected, and the specific questions asked;
- The margin of error of the survey;
- For each question for which the margin of error is greater than that reported under paragraph (d), the margin of error for that question; and
- A mailing address and telephone number, indicating it as an address or telephone number at which the sponsor can be contacted to obtain a written report regarding the survey in accordance with Subsection 5.3.
The survey together with raw data gathered to support its conclusions shall be available for inspection, copying and verification by the COMELEC or by a registered political party or a bona fide candidate, or by any COMELEC-accredited citizen's arm. A reasonable fee sufficient to cover the costs of inspection, copying and verification may be charged.
Surveys affecting national candidates shall not be published fifteen (15) days before an election and surveys affecting local candidates shall not be published seven (7) days before an election. (This provision has been ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in SOCIAL WEATHER STATIONS, INCORPORATED and KAMAHALAN PUBLISHING CORPORATION vs. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, GR No. 147571, 5 May 2001)
Exit polls may only be taken subject to the following requirements:
- Pollsters shall not conduct their surveys within fifty (50) meters from the poling place, whether said survey is taken in a home, dwelling place and other places;
- Pollsters shall wear distinctive clothing;
- Pollsters shall inform the voters that they may refuse to answer; and
- The result of the exit polls may be announced after the closing of the polls on election day, and must dearly identify the total number of respondents, and the places where they were taken. Said announcement shall state that the same is unofficial and does not represent a trend.
Sec. 6. Equal Access to Media Time and Space. - All registered parties and bona fide candidates shall have equal access to media time and space. The following guidelines may be amplified on by the COMELEC:
Sec. 7. Affirmative Action by the COMELEC. -
Pursuant to Sections 90 and 92 of the Omnibus Election Code (Batas Pambansa Blg. 881), the COMELEC shall procure the print space upon payment of just compensation from at least three (3) national newspapers of general circulation wherein candidates for national office can announce their candidacies. Such space shall be allocated free of charge equally and impartially among all the candidates for national office on three (3) different calendar days: the first day within the first week of the campaign period; the second day within the fifth week of the campaign period; and the third day within the tenth week of the campaign period.
The COMELEC shall also procure free airtime from at least three (3) national television networks and three (3) national radio networks, which shall also be allocated free of charge equally and impartially among all candidates for national office. Such free time shall be allocated on three (3) different calendar days: the first day within the first week of the campaign period; the second day within the fifth week of the campaign period; and the third day within the tenth week of the campaign period.
The COMELEC may require national television and radio networks to sponsor at least three (3) national debates among presidential candidates and at least one (1) national debate among vice presidential candidates. The debates among presidential candidates shall be scheduled on three (3) different calendar days: the first debate shall be scheduled within the first and second week of the campaign period; the second debate within the fifth and six week of the campaign period; and the third debate shall be scheduled within the tenth and eleventh week of the campaign period.
The sponsoring television or radio network may sell airtime for commercials and advertisements to interested advertisers and sponsors. The COMELEC shall promulgate rules and regulations for the holding of such debates.
Sec. 8. COMELEC Space and Time. - The COMELEC shall procure space in at least one (1) newspaper of general circulation and air time in at least one (1) major broadcasting station or entity in every province or city: Provided, however, That in the absence of said newspaper, publication shall be done in any other magazine or periodical in said province or city, which shall be known as "COMELEC Space": Provided, further, That in the absence of said broadcasting station or entity, broadcasting shall be done in any radio or television station in said province or city, which shall be known as "COMELEC Time". Said time shall be allocated to the COMELEC free of charge, while said space shall be allocated to the COMELEC upon payment of just compensation. The COMELEC time and space shall be utilized exclusively by the COMELEC for public information dissemination on election-related concerns.
Sec. 9. Posting of Campaign Materials. - The COMELEC may authorize political parties and party-list groups to erect common poster areas for their candidates in not more than ten (10) public places such as plazas, markets, barangay centers and the like, wherein candidates can post. display or exhibit election propaganda: Provided, That the size of the poster areas shall not exceed twelve (12) by sixteen (16) feet or its equivalent.
Independent candidates with no political parties may likewise be authorized to erect common poster areas in not more than ten (10) public places, the size of which shall not exceed four (4) by six (6) feet or its equivalent.
Candidates may post any lawful propaganda material in private places with the consent of the owner thereof, and in public places or property which shall be allocated equitably and impartially among the candidates.
Sec. 10. Right to Reply. - All registered parties and bona fide candidates shall have the right to reply to charges published against them. The reply shall be given publicity by the newspaper, television and/or radio station which first printed or aired the charges with the same prominence or in the same page or section or in the same time slot as the first statement.
Sec. 11. Rates for Political Propaganda. - During the election period, media outlets shall charge registered political parties and bona fide candidates a discounted rate of thirty percent (30%) for television, twenty percent (20%) for radio and ten percent (10%) for print over the average rates charged during the first three quarters of the calendar year preceding the elections.
Section 12. Substitution of Candidates. - In case of valid substitutions after the official ballots have been printed, the votes cast for the substituted candidates shall be considered as stray votes but shall not invalidate the whole ballot. For this purpose, the official ballots shall provide spaces where the voters may write the name of the substitute candidates if they are voting for the latter: Provided, however, That if the substitute candidate of the same family name, this provision shall not apply.
Section 13. Authority of the COMELEC to Promulgate Rules; Election Offenses. - The COMELEC shall promulgate and furnish all political parties and candidates and the mass media entities the rules and regulations for the implementation of this Act, consistent with the criteria established in Article IX-C, Section 4 of the Constitution and Section 86 of the Omnibus Election Code (Batas Pambansa Bldg. 881).
Rules and regulations promulgated by the COMELEC under and by authority of this Section shall take effect on the seventh day after their publication in at least two (2) daily newspapers of general circulation. Prior to effectivity of said rules and regulations, no political advertisement or propaganda for or against any candidate or political party shall be published or broadcast through mass media.
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 Bldg. 881).
Section 14. Repealing Clause. - Section 67 and 85 of the Omnibus Election Code (Batas Pambansa Bldg. 881) and Sections 10 and 11 of Republic Act No. 6646 are hereby repealed. As a consequence, the first proviso in the third paragraph of Section 11 of Republic Act No. 8436 is rendered ineffective. All laws, presidential decrees, executive orders, rules and regulations, or any part thereof inconsistent with the provisions of this Act are hereby repealed or modified or amended accordingly.
Section 15. Separability Clause. - If any provision or part hereof is held invalid or unconstitutional, the remainder of this Act not otherwise affected shall remain in full force and effect.
Section 16. Effectivity. - This Act shall take effect immediately upon its approval.
Approved, 12 February 2001.