Headstart for 2022: TV Patrol gives Pacquiao pre-campaign boost

JEERS TO TV Patrol for giving boxer and senator Manny Pacquiao  airtime to advance his 2022 political agenda through an exclusive interview four days after he lost against Cuban boxer Yordenis Ugas on August 22. While the filing of certificates of candidacy for the May 2022 elections is from October 1 to 8, Pacquiao, on several occasions in 2021, had already clearly expressed his intent to run for president – which makes all coverage of the champion subject to the charge of “electioneering” or politicking by incumbent officials. 

Aired on August 26, the 13-minute one-on-one interview centered on politics and whether Pacquiao is running for president in the coming 2022 elections. 

The interview started with two questions about his recent fight, specifically on his post-game condition and the support of his family despite his loss. It was followed by several political questions. One, on his comments on President Rodrigo Duterte’s running for vice president as well as the Senator Bong Go-Duterte tandem; and, two on the in-fighting inside his party, the PDP-Laban. The questions were legitimate and of public interest as the boxing senator was tagged in these issues and has yet to give his statements. But Pacquiao’s answers were taken from a page of a miting de avance speech especially when he was asked about his plan for 2022.

Pacquaio neither confirmed nor denied his interest in a presidential bid but laid down his “22-rounds priority agenda” in case he runs for President. Among these are fighting corruption, economic growth and development, employment, housing, sustainable livelihood, improvement of healthcare services, and agricultural development.

Pacquiao was asked about his boxing and career options, but politics and his agenda took about eight minutes or 61 percent of the 13-minute interview.

Starting early in the race: Media’s free mileage for incumbents 

CMFR’s content analysis from July 5 to July 12, 2021 showed that media gave mileage to incumbents speculated to run for higher office.

CMFR ALREADY pointed out in a previous monitor that the media has been giving politicians, especially incumbents, more than enough publicity. See, “Premature campaigning via media: Spotlight on incumbents gives them pre-campaign boost.”

In this connection, CMFR would like to note that several other politicians including Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, Senator Grace Poe, Senator Migz Zubiri, Representative Allan Peter Cayetano, Former Vice President Jejomar Binay, and Public Works and Highways Chair Mark Villar already have begun to air primetime ad spots in ABS-CBN, GMA Network and TV5 this early. Section 80 of the Omnibus Election Code, considers all campaigns or partisan political activities outside the campaign period “unlawful.” But politicians are getting away with this because the ads are technically not considered “campaigning” as they have yet to file their candidacies.

With the election approaching, politicians will seek broadcast and print mileage to keep themselves in the public consciousness. The news media should be more discerning as to when not to hand aspiring candidates the mic to use for their political gain.