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Comelec: Pacquiao fight possibly a poll violation

Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao raises his hands as he is introduced as a senatorial candidate by Philippine Vice-president and now opposition presidential candidate Jejomar Binay, third from left, at the start of the official campaign period for the May 9, 2016 presidential elections in Mandaluyong city on Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016. AP/Bullit Marquez

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Thursday said it is looking into a possible violation of election rules by Sarangani Rep. Emmanuel "Manny" Pacquiao, who is preparing for the last match of his celebrated boxing career in April.

Comelec Chair Juan Andres "Andy" Bautista said he already tasked one of the poll agency's lawyers to review whether Pacquiao may be using his match against Timothy Bradley within the campaign season as a way of promoting himself as a political aspirant.

He said other candidates who endorse products must not appear in advertisements during the campaign period to be fair with other candidates who do not have commercial deals.

"If you're an endorser who decided to run for public office, you have to stop your endorsements during campaign period," Bautista said in an interview with ANC.

Bautista was asked to comment on Pacquiao's fight following senatorial contender Walden Bello's remark opposing the congressman's match.

"It entails massive free media coverage which is unfair," Bello, a former Akbayan party-list representative, said in an interview on ANC's Headstart.

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Bello added that aside from Pacquiao, television and radio personalities who are candidates are obliged to take leave of absence during campaign period.

He insisted that Pacquiao will have to reschedule his fight until the May 9 polls end.

Bautista, meanwhile, said that even if candidates' names are already on the ballot, they may still be disqualified from joining the elections.

Pacquiao will face Bradley for the third time on April 9. The boxing match will occur a month before the elections at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

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