Politicians warned vs excessive online campaigning

THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) in the Cordillera is asking the help of netizens and mainstream media to help monitor campaigning activities through the use social media, particularly Facebook.

Lawyer Julius Torres, Comelec Cordillera regional director, admitted that despite their central office having a department that monitors campaigning through social media, their regional office still need support from netizens and media.

“Monitoring Facebook campaigning for us here at the Comelec regional office will be hard. Although we have the education and information department together with the campaign and finance unit in Metro Manila which has dedicated personnel to monitor social media accounts, most of us here in the region are not that tech savvy but we will still leave this up to our election officers,” Torres said.

In past elections, Comelec created a campaign finance office to check on campaign contribution and expenditures of candidates, a number of whom have already been charged for overspending.

Under existing election rules, politicians must limit their campaign spending per voter and are required to submit to the Comelec their campaign expenditures whether they win or lose in the elections.

Even before the start of the official campaign period, some candidates have begun to use social media, particularly Facebook, as a platform to introduce themselves although not specifying their political intentions.

“The only problem here is that not all of the election officers are active on social media. We have our guidelines on campaigning on social media but the challenge here is some of our personnel are not active on social media which will be difficult to monitor,” Torres said.

Torres stressed the need for netizens to help the regional electoral tribunal by informing them of such activities where candidates indicate their intention of running for an elective post and expresses their call to the public to vote for them even before the official campaign period starts.

“We will probably rely on reports coming from netizens and the media to inform us of such activities by candidates on social media,” Torres added.

The electoral tribunal may soon come out with the necessary resolution in time with the issuance of the implementing rules and regulations for the Fair Elections Act.


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