Robredo: Tough laws needed to protect polls vs ‘dirty’ money, social media
MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Leni Robredo has called for the crafting of stricter election laws to counter “dirty politics” spawned by the influence of money and smear campaigns on social media.
In an event in Pangasinan on Wednesday, Robredo lamented that candidates with more money have an advantage in elections because the current laws “have no bite”.
“Dati na tayong unhappy sa uri ng kampanya natin — even before — dahil in so many instances, nabibigyan talaga ng advantage iyong maraming pera. Iyong ating mga election laws, wala masyadong ngipin para siguruhin na may level na playing field,” she told reporters.
“Halimbawa, iyong mga violators, hindi naman nakakasuhan, hindi name-make accountable, kasi wala masyadong ngipin iyong batas. Kaya kailangan talaga i-amend na iyong ating elections laws,” she added.
There have been calls to amend the country’s election laws, primarily the fundamental election decree — Omnibus Election Code (OEC). Even Commission on Elections (Comelec) officials consider OEC outdated.
Aside from having contradicting provisions on premature campaigning, the 31-year-old OEC is still based on a manual form of voting and has no provision on social media use for election campaigns.
According to Robredo, who chairs the Liberal Party that forms part of the Otso Diretso slate, the improper use of social media has been largely making dirty politics in the country murkier.
Robredo noted the stark difference between vetting processes in traditional media outlets like television, radio, as well as newspapers, and social media sites that can be operated by anyone.
“Dati na nga siyang madumi, lalo pa siyang naging madumi because of social media. Tingin ko, iyong social media, na-abuse siya in a very negative way, kasi halimbawa before, iyong traditional media kasi […] subjected to accountability,” Robredo explained.
“Hindi kayo (media) puwedeng magsabi ng kasinungalingan, kailangan iyong sasabihin niyo, masusi munang pag-aaral na pinagdaanan para i-verify iyong sources. Pero sa social media, walang ganiyan, eh, kasi anyone, anyone can post. Anonymously. So talagang walang accountability,” she added.
The role and impact of social media in the 2016 presidential elections have been extensive, especially for winning candidates like President Rodrigo Duterte, whose supporters heavily banked on campaigning through Facebook.
However, allegations of bloggers and influencers spreading misleading information also piled up during the past elections, prompting social media sites and news organizations to launch fact-checking projects.
“Kailangan talaga iyong Kongreso magpasa ng mga batas na kahit paano may control saka regulation iyong mga post sa social media. Kailangan iyong mga social media networks gaya ng Facebook, ng Instagram, pati nga YouTube kailangan magkaroon ng regulation,” Robredo said.
“Kasi kung anybody can post anonymously, ang daming nabibiktimang hindi naman dine-deserve na siraan,” she added.
Amid this backdrop, Robredo called on voters to take the May 13 midterm elections seriously, stressing that the legislative agenda in the next three years would be crucial to the country’s future.
She reminded the public that real power or authority lies in the hands of each voter, not politicians.
“Iyong sa akin, una nga, seryosohin iyong eleksyon. Parating pinapaalala, iyong kapangyarihan ng lahat, nasa kamay ng bawat botante. Iyong kapangyarihan wala naman sa amin, eh. Kami, pinapahiram lang,” Robredo noted.
“Iyong composition ng Senado, crucial in the next three years, kasi maraming importanteng bagay na pag-uusapan. Pag-uusapan kung magshi-shift ba tayo sa federalism, kung i-a-amend ba natin iyong ating Constitution […] kung ire-reimpose ba iyong death penalty, kung ilo-lower ba iyong minimum age of criminal liability,” she said. /kga
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