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Sunday, May 19, 2024

GAB: Professional sports tilts off-limits to poll candidates

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The Games and Amusements Board has called on promoters and organizers of sanctioned professional events to avoid accepting sponsorship from any political candidate or party-list groups during the election period.

In a memorandum addressed to league organizers, teams, professional athletes, managers, and other sports officials and signed by GAB chairman Abraham Kahlil Mitra and commissioner Eduard Trinidad, the GAB reminded that accepting sponsorship from a candidate of any kind is an election offense Comelec rules.

“While we understand that sponsorship is important in staging sports events, particularly during this time of the pandemic, we still need to follow the law and Comelec’s orders,” said Mitra, who made the reminder following the Commission on Election’s response to GAB’s letter last month.

Last January 14, the GAB sent Comelec a letter inquiring whether a sponsorship from a political candidate and/or party-list group to a professional league or sports promoter is considered a prohibited donation or contribution.

The Comelec’s reply cited Section 104 of the Omnibus Election Code that says “no candidate, his or her spouse or any relative within the second civil degree of consanguinity or affinity, or his campaign manager, agent or representative shall, during the campaign period, on the day before and on the day of the election, directly or indirectly, make any donation, contribution or gift in cash or in-kind.”

The Comelec has defined political sponsorship as “an act of supporting a person, organization, or activity by giving money, encouragement or other help.”

It also explained that sponsorship might result in possible election offenses such as vote-selling, vote-buying, among others.

“We want to help our leagues and boxing promoters to bounce back, get good publicity, and secure large audience turnout. However, we want to remind them to avoid politicking in sports,” Mitra added.

However, it is not discussed if media coverage firms like television networks and digital media can accept political advertisements since they fall under media advertisements allowable to political candidates.

In the amateur sports scene, there were no words yet from the Philippine Sports Commission or the Philippine Olympic Committee if National Sports Associations are prohibited from having their events backed up by political candidates.

In several associations, it’s difficult to do away from political sponsorship because they are headed by sportsmen-politicians.

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