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Senatorial 'underdog' questions ads of political 'Goliaths' before SC

A senatorial candidate who describes himself as an "underdog" in the upcoming May 2013 elections has questioned before the Supreme Court the television commercials and advertisements of several senatorial candidates. In a seven-page petition for prohibition, lawyer Samson Alcantara asked the high court to stop the broadcast of the ads of Representatives Juan Edgardo Angara (Aurora), Joseph Victor Ejercito (San Juan City), Juan Ponce Enrile (Cagayan) Jr., Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, and Puerto Princesa, Palawan mayor Edward Hagedorn. Sought for comment, Angara dismissed the petition. “I think Professor Alcantara knows his law and jurisprudence. Perhaps this is not so much a legal tactic as it is a political tactic,” he said. GMA News has tried to reach Ejercito, Enrile, Cayetano and Hagedorn for their respective comments, but they have yet to give one as of posting time. Blatant violation Alcantara said the respondents "blatantly undermined and violated the letter and spirit" of the Philippine Constitution; Republic Act No. 6713, otherwise known as the 'Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees; and Article 19 of the Civil Code. Article 19 states that "[e]very person must, in the exercise of his rights and in the performance of his duties, act with justice, give everyone his due, and observe honesty and good faith." In his petition filed last Friday, Alcantara said: "Respondents' television commercials are obviously intended to enhance their chances in the 2013 senatorial election, and through the same they are able to circumvent with impunity and render nugatory the limitations on airtime allotment for candidates during the campaign period." Alcantara said the ads should be stopped since the respondents are "already enjoying immense popularity... by reason of their regular media exposure due to the performance of their functions, and by reason of their membership in established political families." TV ads The ads that Alcantara cited in his complaint were that of Cayetano on "Filipinas 2020," Angara on the "Senior Citizens Law," Enrile where he declares, "Gusto ko may pagkain kayo," Ejercito where he says "Yon ako," and Hagedorn on his "Express Padala." Alcantara said his rivals "transgressed the ethical proscription against extravagant or ostentatious display of wealth," noting that television commercials are expensive. He said allowing these candidates to come out with ads before the campaign period would allow them to "consolidate political power in their families, to the great disadvantage of senatorial aspirants like petitioner [Alcantara]." He called the respondents "Goliaths in Philippine politics." He added that these ads were also in "gross violation" of the constitutional mandate for the equitable diffusion of political power and against political dynasties. "The usual argument that that respondents can air their ads because they are not yet legally considered candidates although they have already filed their certificates of candidacy is precisely the best indication that, as public officers, they have not acted with utmost responsibility and integrity," Alcantara said. The Comelec earlier said the election period officially starts on January 13 and ends on June 12, 2013. However, candidates for senator are only allowed to start their campaign on February 12 until May 11, 2013, according to Comelec Resolution No. 9385, which contains the Calendar of Activities for the 2013 polls. Meanwhile, the campaign period for the congressional race starts on March 29 and ends on May 11, 2013. Proclaiming himself as an anti-political dynasty advocate and an underdog, Alcantara is the founding chairman and president of ABAKADA Guro party-list and is a law professor at the University of Santo Tomas. He also belongs to the Social Justice Society political party. He finished law at the Manuel L. Quezon University School of Law in 1957 and placed 3rd in the Bar Examinations of the same year. — with Andreo C. Calonzo/KBK, GMA News