Comelec in talks with Facebook, Google ahead of 2019 elections

Gillan Ropero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 06 2019 12:24 AM | Updated as of Feb 14 2019 06:44 PM

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MANILA - The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is in talks with social media giants as it begins monitoring the online campaign expenses of candidates for the midterm polls in May.

Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said its new rules will compel social media platforms to submit reports on the advertisement expenses of each candidate.

"The biggest giant there is here in the Philippines is Facebook. We have been talking to them. We've also talked to Google. We're reaching out to Twitter as well. But those are the big three. So we'll see how it pans out," Jimenez told ANC's Beyond Politics.

Jimenez reminded candidates to include in their report their expenses for social media associates or campaigners influencing online discourse through social media engagement.

"Certainly these social media associates form part of the PR toolbag that most people deploy nowadays. That's the one legitimate source of information that we have," he said.

"We also have monitoring that will allow us to eventually determine which ones are paid or not, because we do have to make a distinction between really eager citizens who are doing this for the love of God and country and all of that, and those who are doing it for pay."

Jimenez also reiterated that there is nothing illegal with candidates promoting themselves ahead of the official election campaign period.

"It's not illegal. It's not punishable by law. You might not like that it's being done, you might find it distasteful, but technically there is no violation of the law," he said.