By Vince Alvic Alexis F. Nonato, Reporter

Pacquiao’s boxing bout does not violate laws, says election lawyer

Posted on February 20, 2016

THE upcoming fight of boxer Emmanuel “Manny” D. Pacquiao coinciding with the last stretch of his campaign for a Senate seat does not violate any law, an election lawyer said.

In a legal opinion on Friday, lawyer Romulo B. Macalintal said Mr. Pacquiao’s Apr. 9 bout against Timothy Bradley, Jr., “cannot be a ground to disqualify Pacquiao as candidate for Senator.”

Mr. Macalintal said there is nothing in election laws that justifies the cancellation of his candidacy over the boxing event.

“No election offense case could be filed against Pacquiao because he is not violating any provision of election laws that would justify the filing of a criminal case against him,” he said.

Even if there was any offense under Philippine law, it could not be imposed on Mr. Pacquiao anyway because the fight will be held in Las Vegas, which is outside the country’s jurisdiction. Since only matters of national security are excepted by the doctrine of territoriality, the doctrine applies to the Pacquiao-Bradley fight.

For the media’s part, they also could not be held liable for airing the fight even during the campaign period. Section 86 of the Omnibus Election Code recognizes “the right of media entities to broadcast accounts of significant or newsworthy events and views on matters of public interest,” Mr. Macalintal said.

“Surely, the said boxing event is a newsworthy event and a historical one as it will feature the last or final fight of Pacquiao who is considered as pride of the Filipino people as a world class fighter,” he added.

Mr. Pacquiao could also not be held liable for media coverage of his fight because it is a matter between the media entity and the promoter of the fight “of which Pacquiao has nothing to do,” Mr. Macalintal said.

The Apr. 9 fight is exactly one month before the elections on May 9, and is well within the campaign period of Feb. 9-May 7.

Mr. Pacquiao’s third bout with Mr. Bradley is touted as his last professional fight. He is celebrated for being the first and only eight-division world champion, although his most recent bout against Floyd Mayweather, Jr., ended in a loss.

As an incumbent representative of Sarangani lone district, Mr. Pacquiao is criticized for consistently being among the top absentees at the House of Representatives.

While juggling other careers in basketball and television, he is running for senator this May under the banner of Vice-President Jejomar C. Binay’s United Nationalist Alliance. He recently drew flak internationally for his demeaning comments against homosexual couples, saying they are “worse than animals.”

Amid the uproar, independent senatorial candidate Walden F. Ballo, a resigned representative of Akbayan party-list, warned Mr. Pacquiao on Thursday to postpone his fight or risk disqualification. Mr. Bello said the boxer gains undue advantage if the fight pushes through.

He also cited Commission on Elections Resolution No. 9615, the Fair Elections Act’s implementing guidelines for the 2013 elections, which expanded the definition of political advertisements to include media appearances in shows not covered by the “Comelec hour.”

Comelec Chairman Andres D. Bautista said on Thursday that the poll body could not take action against the fight on its own, and that if Mr. Pacquiao should be disqualified, a complaint has to be filed properly first.