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Comelec to file poll raps vs Morato

- Sheila Crisostomo () - May 19, 2012 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has found probable cause to file four counts of election-related cases against former Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) president Manuel Morato for using his television show in campaigning for defeated presidential Gilbert Teodoro in the 2010 polls.

Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said the Law Department was directed to file the case, most likely with the Quezon City court.

The poll body has also ordered the department to subject Morato’s co-host Maggie dela Riva to “preliminary investigation,” along with PCSO Board members and officials of the government stations NBN-4 and IBC-13 “who authorized the airings of the subject episodes of Dial M” for similar offense.

In a resolution, the Comelec said “it has been clearly established” that Morato used his TV show “Dial M” to endorse Teodoro and his running mate, movie actor and television host Edu Manzano.

Morato was also found to have used the program to campaign against senatorial candidates Teofisto Guingona III, Francis Escudero and Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel.

“We find reasonable ground to suspect that respondent (Morato) has indeed violated Section 261 (O) of the Omnibus Election Code, as well as Republic Act No. 9006… and Comelec Resolution No. 8758,” the resolution said.

RA 9006 pertains to the Fair Election Act while Resolution No. 8758 contains the implementing rules and regulations of RA 9006.

The Comelec said that Morato also committed an election offense when he authorized the release of public funds to air “Dial M” on May 3 and 5, 2010.

It noted that the former PCSO chair had allowed the display of a huge tarpaulin of Teodoro and Manzano on the set of his TV show.

He also pronounced his support for the two and even “stuck a sticker in his chest” bearing the word “Gibo,” Teodoro’s nickname.

“Respondent (Morato), as co-host of ‘Dial M,’ played a very important role during the May 10, 2010 elections. His comments could change the political set up and influence the outcome of the elections. We can’t simply ignore the impact of his comments to the electorate during the May 10, 2010 elections,” the poll body added.

The Comelec maintained that Morato also had “the responsibility to safeguard public funds and not to allow his program to be used for partisan political activity.”

COMELEC COMELEC RESOLUTION NO DIAL M EDU MANZANO FAIR ELECTION ACT FRANCIS ESCUDERO AND RISA HONTIVEROS-BARAQUEL GILBERT TEODORO JAMES JIMENEZ MORATO
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