MANILA, Philippines (Reuters) — The Philippine election commission said on Tuesday (March 27) that it cannot block TV and radio coverage of Manny Pacquiao’s WBO welterweight fight against Timothy Bradley because nobody has filed a formal complaint against the Filipino boxer, who is currently running for a seat in the Senate.
A rival politician last month wanted the poll body to declare the boxing match a violation of election rules as it would give the boxer an undue advantage over other candidates in the race to become a senator.
Commission on Elections (COMELEC) Chief Andres Bautista told journalists at a news conference on Tuesday that they were basing their decision on technicalities.
“The decision of the COMELEC (Commission on Elections) en banc today was – number one, we noted there was really no formal complaint that was filed in accordance with COMELEC rules and procedures. Number two, the fight has actually not occurred yet, meaning it’s still contingent and there is a possibility of it happening, but it has not happened yet. So much so that, as number three, the COMELEC en banc believes there is still, at this point, no justiciable controversy,” he said.
Pacquiao’s lawyers sent a letter to the commission saying that he was allowed TV and radio air time for political advertisements and that his fight would not consume all of the allotted time.
The match will take a maximum of 36 minutes for a 12-round fight, or less if the fight does not go the distance. Under the law, all candidates are given advertising quotas of up to 120 minutes for TV and 180 minutes for radio per station.
The bout on April 9 is being billed as Pacquiao’s last fight, as the sporting hero brings down the curtain on a career that saw him crowned world champion in eight different weight divisions.
Pacquiao’s description of gays as “worse than animals” last month drew criticism on social media at home and abroad, and cost him an endorsement deal with Nike, the world’s largest sportswear maker.
On May 9, more than 54 million people in the Philippines will vote for a president, vice-president, 300 lawmakers and thousands of local government posts.