An advertisement against the presidential front-runner Rodrigo Duterte aired on one of the country's major television networks has caused criticism among Filipino social media users just few days before election day.
A court in the Philippines on Friday ordered the broadcaster to stop airing the advertisement and said in a ruling that the advertisement "manifestly opposes a candidate" and thus "cannot allow minor children to be used in such black propaganda."
The 30-second advertisement was aired on ABS-CBN, a major television network in the country, and featured children questioning the suitability of presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte. In the video, children raised issues with some of his controversial acts and comments, such as his cursing of Pope Francis and jokes about rape.
The ad was first shown on Thursday, just days before the general election on May 9, when the country will elect its president and vice-president for the coming six-year term.
71-year-old Duterte is ahead in many polls, with more than 30 percent of the support, followed by Senator Grace Poe at 22 percent. The candidates are running to replace current president Benigno Aquino III.
ABS-CBN said the television ad was paid by Senator Antonio Trillanes, a candidate for the vice presidency. The broadcaster claimed in a statement on Thursday that the ad was "legitimate" and "complied with the requirements of pertinent election laws."
Social media reaction
But many Twitter users felt that using children in a political ad is immoral and they showed support for the candidate by using the hashtag #DuterteTillTheEnd.
Some Twitter users thought the advertisement had the opposite effect and strengthened Duterte and consolidated his support.
Some Twitter users also called for a boycott of the broadcaster by using the hashtag #boycottABSCBN.
A petition on Change.org calls for the suspension of the TV network that aired the anti-Duterte TV ads. The petition is just 647 short of its target of 10,000 signitures.
"Children purposely used"
On his official Facebook and Instagram account, Senator Trillanes admitted in a statement that the children were "purposely used" because "they should always be part of the consideration in our choice of leaders of the country." He also said the children were shown "in a positive light."
Duterte responded on his official Twitter account that the ad would not have any effect on his supporters.
Filipino voters will have the last word when they head to the polls on Monday.