Comelec junks case vs Kris Aquino, Boy AbundaBy Tina G. Santos
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines–Citing lack of merit, the Commission on Elections has dismissed the election offense case filed against television hosts Kris Aquino and Boy Abunda who were accused of using their programs to promote the candidacy of President Benigno Aquino in 2010.
“The instant case is bereft of such facts and circumstances that would excite in our minds the belief that herein respondents are guilty of committing an election offense. Wherefore, premises considered, the instant complaint … is hereby dismissed for lack of merit,” the Comelec said in a 20-page resolution.
Apart from Kris, Mr. Aquino’s youngest sister, and Abunda, also named defendants in the petition filed by Elpidio Valino were ABS-CBN executives Eugenio Lopez, Maria Rosario “Charo” Santos-Concio and Ramon Osorio.
Valino claimed the five unduly favored the candidacy of Mr. Aquino, in 2010.
He said the television hosts and the network executives violated Sections 80 (Election Campaign or partisan political activity outside campaign period) and 261 (Threats, intimidation, terrorism, use of fraudulent device and other forms of coercion) of the Omnibus Election Code Section 6.6 (Equal access to media, time and space) of the Republic Act 9006 of the Fair Election Acts.
However, the Comelec upheld the recommendation of its law department to dismiss the case after finding “no probable cause” to hold the defendants for trial on such violations.
It added that Valino “only made ‘innuendos,’ but failed to provide direct evidence and presented only internet/online materials without any evidence to support or confirm his story.
In his complaint, Valino said that on September 9, 2009, Kris had expressed support to the presidential bid of her brother by initiating fund raising by selling her house and started campaigning for him on her television shows on ABS-CBN.
On October 27, 2009, Valino alleged that Kris and Abunda had conceptualized Mr. Aquino’s music video, which was aired three days later.
He added that on February 10, 2010, Kris appeared as a judge in the talent show “Pilipinas Got Talent” and “wittingly used the program as a jumping board for the provincial campaign” of her brother.
Valino also claimed that Kris had committed an election offense when she announced and thanked the Iglesia ni Cristo for supporting her brother on her Twitter account on May 5, 2010.
On the other hand, Valino accused the ABS-CBN management of “favoring the candidacy of Mr. Aquino over other candidates as shown by its ‘frequent and numerous coverage’ of him.”
He also noted that the network did not ask Kris to take a leave or resign during the campaign to prevent her from using the television station.
But the Comelec, on the issue of Kris’ Twitter messages, ruled that Valino failed to produce any witness or evidence that Kris’ acts “coerced, unduly influenced, threatened, intimidated or defrauded any person into voting for her brother.”
Valino likewise failed to prove that Kris and Abunda did not resign or take a leave of absence during the campaign period, the poll body said.
Further, the Comelec ruled that violation of Sec. 80 of OEC is comprised of two elements–the election campaign and the candidates–which, it claimed, are both not present in Valino’s petition.
The resolution showed that Mr. Aquino filed his certificate of candidacy on November 29, 2009 or after the airing of the music video.
It also cited the decriminalization of premature campaigning in Supreme Court ruling on Penera vs Comelec case.
“While we wail and lament its demise, Sec. 80 is dead and remains entombed in the world of lifeless until the day of its resurrection … From Nov. 29, 2009 to February 8, 2010, he was not yet a candidate. President Aquino became a candidate only on February 9 which is the start of the campaign period when election campaign is no longer prohibited,” the Comelec added.
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