Candidates ordered to register websites
Political parties and candidates are now required to register all websites and social media pages that they will be using in their campaign for the May 13 midterm elections.
According to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) Resolution No. 10488, parties and candidates must register the websites with the Comelec’s education and information department.
Blogs or social media pages not directly maintained by a party or candidate will be considered additional campaign blogs or pages if such sites, when taken as a whole, endorse a party or candidate.
The Comelec had said that since the use of social media in the country was unregulated and distribution of campaign materials over the internet was largely free, the poll body can only monitor expensive websites, or those with well-produced videos or have celebrities as endorsers.
Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez earlier assured that the new rules would not regulate the content of social media, but only its cost.
“Social media will remain a free market of ideas, but within the context of keeping the elections orderly, such as reporting of expenses and reporting of costs,” Jimenez said in an earlier interview.
“What we will do is to ensure whenever you put something out in social media, it will be regulated in terms of cost and platform used,” Jimenez said.
Under the resolution, lawful election propaganda include “social media posts, whether original or reposted from some source, which may either be incidental to the poster’s advocacies of social issues or which may have for its primary purpose, the endorsement of a candidate only.”
Also allowed are paid advertisements in broadcast, Internet, mobile, print or outdoor media, which are compliant with election regulations.
Jimenez said social media firms involved in election campaign would also be required to submit records of their transactions.
“All broadcast and digital mass media entities shall preserve their broadcast logs or analogous records for a period of five years from the date of broadcast for submission to the Comelec, whenever required,” the resolution read.
Republic Act No. 9006, or the Fair Elections Act, limits campaign expense to just P3 per voter, which meant senatorial candidates can only spend a total of around P180 million.
Independent candidates are given more legroom as they can spend up to P5 per voter.
The official campaign period for the Senate and party-list races start on Feb. 12 but those running in local races can start campaigning only on March 29.
Candidates are prohibited from campaigning on Maundy Thursday (April 18), Good Friday (April 19), the eve of election day (May 12) and election day itself.
To reduce waste, the Comelec urged political parties and candidates to use recyclable and environment-friendly materials in producing their campaign paraphernalia.
It also reminded candidates that their campaign materials must also observe the plastic ban that may be implemented in a particular locality.
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