Senate bet mulls questioning Comelec's online ads scrutiny

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 11 2019 11:59 AM | Updated as of Feb 11 2019 12:28 PM

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MANILA - A senatorial candidate on Monday said he is mulling over questioning before the Supreme Court the Commission on Election's scrutiny of online advertisements for the 2019 midterm elections. 

The Comelec, in a resolution last week, ordered all candidates and political parties to register their website addresses, blogs and social media pages, marking the first time that these would be covered by campaign regulations. 

The law however only puts a cap on campaign ads in the "press, radio, television, and other medium," noted election lawyer and senatorial candidate Romulo Macalintal. 

The Comelec, he said, defined "other medium" as social media even though the agency has no power to do so and cannot amend the law. 

"Only the legislature can define that. Hindi dapat na gagawa ang Comelec ng sarili nilang definition kung ano iyung 'other medium,'" Macalintal told radio DZMM. 

(The Comelec should not make its own definition of 'other medium.'

"Kami, pinag-aaralan namin kung puwede naming isampa iyan sa Korte Suprema at itanong ano ba itong ginagawa ng Comelec, iyun bang social media ay masasabi mong part ng 'other medium,'" he added. 

(We are studying if that can be brought up in the Supreme Court and ask about what the Comelec is doing, if social media are part of the 'other medium'.) 

Under Comelec's 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.

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.

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.

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

DZMM, 11 January 2019