Taps internet for anti-epal drive
MANILA - The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is tapping the power of the internet in going after epal politicians during the campaign period.
Comelec spokesman James Jimenez today unveiled before the media its revamped website at www.mycomelec.tv which now hosts "SumbongKo sa Comelec."
The unveiling comes a day before the start of the official campaign period for senators and party-list representatives tomorrow.
"Dahil bukas magsisimula na campaign period, kung epal ka dati, bukas criminal ka na," he said.
Election laws impose a maximum of 6 years in jail, disqualification and the loss of the right to vote for illegal political advertising, which will only be enforced during the campaign period.
"Last week, nadinig niyo gagamitin natin ang social media. Maganda na mayroon tayo landing page para sa publiko," Jimenez said.
#sumbongkosacomelec has links where users may request for Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machine demonstrations (http://mycomelec.tv/campaignrules/pcos-demo-request/), feedback reporting for campaign violations, a primer on campaign violations, and links to Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes' Twitter page as well as contact information for other Comelec offices.
The following are the campaign violations due for monitoring:
- Campaigning on Maundy Thursday, March 28
- Campaigning on Good Friday, March 29
- Campaigning on the eve of Election Day, May 12
- Campaigning on Election Day, May 13
A foreigner, or foreign entity, aiding a candidate directly or indirectly, or spending for a candidate's campaign
Prohibited Campaign Propaganda
- Printed materials such as leaflets, exceeding eight and one-half inches (8 ½") in width and fourteen inches (14") in length?Posters made of cloth, paper, cardboard or any other material, whether framed or posted, with an area exceeding two feet (2') by three feet (3')?Streamers exceeding three feet (3') by eight feet (8') in size displayed at the site and on the occasion of a public meeting or rally.
- Said streamers displayed more than five (5) days before the date of the meeting or rally or NOT removed within twenty-four (24) hours after said meeting or rally
- Use of hazardous materials in campaign materials; use of plastics in jurisdictions where plastics are banned
- Absence of this information on printed propaganda material: "political advertisement paid for," followed by the true and correct name and address of the candidate or party for whose benefit the election propaganda was printed or aired; and "political advertisements paid by," followed by the true and correct name and address of the payor
- To print, publish, broadcast or exhibit any such election propaganda donated or given free of charge by any person or publishing firm or broadcast entity to a candidate or party without the written acceptance by the said candidate or party and unless they bear and be identified by the words "printed free of charge," or "airtime for this broadcast was provided free of charge by", respectively, followed by the true and correct name and address of the said publishing firm or broadcast entity
- To show, display or exhibit publicly in a theater, television station, or any public forum any movie, cinematography or documentary portraying the life or biography of a candidate, or in which a character is portrayed by an actor or media personality who is himself a candidate
- To post, display or exhibit any election campaign or propaganda material outside of authorized common poster areas, in public places, or in private properties without the consent of the owner thereof.
NB: "Public places" include any of the following:
- Electronic announcement boards, such as LED display boards located along highways and streets, LCD TV displays posted on walls of public buildings, and other similar devices which are owned by local government units, government-owned and controlled corporations, or any agency or instrumentality of the Government;
- Motor vehicles used as patrol cars, ambulances, and other similar purposes that are owned by local government units, government-owned and controlled corporations, and other agencies and instrumentalities of the Government, particularly those bearing red license plates;
- Waiting sheds, sidewalks, street and lamp posts, electric posts and wires, traffic signages and other signboards erected on public property, pedestrian overpasses and underpasses, flyovers and underpasses, bridges, main thoroughfares, center islands of roads and highways;
- Schools, shrines, barangay halls, health centers, public structures and buildings or any edifice thereof;
- Public utility vehicles such as buses, jeepneys, trains, taxi cabs, ferries, pedicabs and tricycles, whether motorized or not; Within the premises of public transport terminals, such as bus terminals, airports, seaports, docks, piers, train stations, and the like.
The site also allows for downloads of Comelec rules on campaigns and financing and an infographic for the voting process and how to spot violations.
Jimenez says the website lists down the guidelines for reporting as well as an email address where complainants can email pictures and video of violations.
The site also has a page where validated pictures of violations will be posted. The website is in Taglish to reach a wider audience.
The public IS encouraged to give feedback on broadcast political ads as well to help monitor their compliance with the aggregate airtime limits.
Jimenez emphasized that the identities of everyone reporting will be kept confidential.
Aside from the website, the public may also report through Twitter by posting pictures, and tweeting @comelec with the hashtag @sumbongko.
"We're monitoring requests. We start acting on them tomorrow when the national campaign starts," Jimenez said.
He said the Comelec is doing this effort for the first time this election. "Wala ito nung 2010. In 2010, the focus wasn't social media but getting the automated system up and running. For 2013, people are not just voters but partners in managing elections."
Jimenez said candidates don't have to remove their posters before the start of the official campaign period, but he maintained that beginning tomorrow, they will start monitoring for violations.
"We will go around the next few days, the public should conduct their own documentation. email at: email@example.com
Aside from social media and the website, the Comelec also accepts complaints through local election officers. The Comelec has 38 personnel devoted to this effort, and Jimenez is looking at getting 15 more to augment their manpower.