Why Comelec is 'handicapped' in regulating social media campaigning

Jauhn Etienne Villaruel, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 05 2021 07:11 PM

 Facebook. Johanna Geron/illustration, Reuters
Facebook. Johanna Geron/illustration, Reuters

MANILA — The public should "not expect too much" from the soon-to-be-released social media guidelines of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for Halalan 2022, its spokesperson said Friday, saying the poll body is "working under a massive handicap."

"Please don't hold your breath too much. You might be disappointed. Comelec is working under a massive handicap... The larger problem is there is no legislative framework for any of this," Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez told a webinar Friday.

Social media has become one of the major battlegrounds during the election season in the Philippines, with many citing the campaign strategy of President Rodrigo Duterte as a success story. However, it has also turned into a hotbed of disinformation.

With the pandemic still raging, candidates are expected to migrate a massive portion of their campaign online. 


Jimenez lamented how Congress "has many times taken a hard pass on actually drafting social media rules [for campaigning]."

Comelec has been urging Congress for a law regulating political campaigns on social media since 2016.

"Even if we did come out with a guidelines as we did in 2016, we're doing so basically with anticipation that we're gonna get a hide off from the Supreme Court, but that's actually what we're hoping for," he said. 


Among the regulations included in the upcoming social media guidelines is the prohibition against microtargeting, a campaign strategy that uses a person's personal data to deliver a specific message. 

"One of the things we’re gonna come out with is a prohibition for candidates to use microtargeting as a means of deciding where to send their post, how to boost or promote it," he said.

Jimenez said the poll body is still finalizing the social media guidelines, which may be released middle of November.