Comelec to monitor social media pages, blogs used for election campaign

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 02 2019 06:35 PM

MANILA - Social media and online advertisements for the 2019 midterm elections will be subject to the Commission on Elections' (Comelec) scrutiny, the poll body said in a resolution, marking the first time "blogs" and "social media posts" would be covered by campaign regulations.

In a resolution dated January 30, the poll body ordered all political parties and candidates to "register with the Education and Information Department of the Comelec the website name and web address of the official blog and/or social media page" that would be used to disseminate their online campaign materials.

Other blogs and social media pages not affiliated with a candidate or a political party but "has for its primary purpose the endorsement of a candidate" shall be considered as "additional official blogs or social media pages of a candidate," the resolution read.

The resolution was not explicit about content monitoring or regulation. 

Under the resolution, website owners or administrators are now required to submit to the Comelec certified true copies of broadcast logs, certificates of performance, affidavits of publication and other records to allow the poll body to include it in the computation of a candidate's expenditures.

Each candidate who belong to a political party is entitled to spend P3 for every registered voter, while those without political parties may allot P5 per registered voter.

Political parties and party-list groups may spend P5 pesos per registered voter.

Election propaganda materials, including those published online, "shall not be printed, published or broadcast or exhibited" unless the candidate or political party writes an acceptance letter to formally receive the campaign donation, the Comelec said.

Internet companies shall also provide the Comelec "validated information on advertising agencies or candidates who placed online political advertisements."

Violators of policies may be imprisoned between 1 to 6 years, and possibly face disqualification from running for public office, the poll body said.

Political parties that would not adhere to the campaign rules may also be fined P10,000, it said.

MONITOR CONTENT TOO, EX-POLL OFFICIAL URGES COMELEC

A former Comelec commissioner also urged the poll body to monitor the content of election-related propaganda on the internet due to the proliferation of disinformation on social media.

"I am more concerned about monitoring content because there's a lot of disinformation now for or against particular candidates. If you focus on that, I think that would have more tangible results as compared to just monitoring of expenses," said former poll commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal said.

A recent study showed that Filipinos are the world's heaviest user of social media spending almost 4 hours on different platforms daily.