Comelec says negative campaigning 'always allowed'


Posted at Feb 14 2019 12:57 PM | Updated as of Feb 14 2019 02:12 PM

People walk under campaign banners and posters as the Senatorial campaigns begin in Caloocan City, February 12, 2019. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Negative campaigning has "always been allowed" in national polls, the Commission on Elections said Thursday, as the campaign period for May's midterm elections entered its third day. 

A campaign material is defined as "anything that promotes the victory or defeat of a candidate," noted Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez. 

"Allowed po ang negative campaigning," he told radio DZMM. 

"Whether it's positive or negative ads, hindi po pinakikialaman ng Comelec ang content." 

(Negative campaigning is allowed. Whether it's positive or negative ads, the Comelec does not interfere with the content.) 

The rule applies to "all platforms," he clarified in a text message to ABS-CBN News. 

"It's always been allowed," he added, referring to negative campaigning. 

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Jimenez, in his DZMM interview, also said the Comelec will not monitor the content of online campaign ads, but rather, only the cost for the production and promotion of the materials, which social media platforms have been required to divulge. 

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. 

"Puwede po tayong mag-post sa social [media] kahit gaano karaming beses gusto -- every post, a statement of support everyday, 24 hours a day until the end of the elections, wala pong problema iyan. Hindi po limitado ang pag-express natin sa social," he told DZMM. 

(We can post on social media no matter how many times we want -- every post, a statement of support everyday, 24 hours a day until the end of the elections, there's no problem with that. Our right to express on social media is not limited.) 

Under the law, those running with political parties are allowed to spend P3 for every registered voter. Independent candidates can spend P5 per voter.

The Comelec has also given candidates until Feb. 14 to take down illegal campaign posters, warning it would start taking legal action afterward. 

Candidates may inquire about the location of common poster areas from their municipal election officers or through Comelec hotlines 525-9294 and 525-9296, said Jimenez.