Comelec sets eyes on social media for vote-buying, election violations
MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Monday warned local candidates that their campaign activities are being monitored, including social media, amid allegations of vote buying and other election-related offenses.
The Comelec, however, reiterated that local candidates may only be slapped with offenses commencing on March 25, which is the start of the campaign period for local elections.
“Simula nitong bente singko ng Marso, kayo ay considered as kandidato na at hahabulan namin kayo,” Comelec Commissioner George Garcia said during the Laging Handa Palace briefing.
(Starting on the twenty-fifth of March, you are considered a candidate, and we will come after you.)
“‘Yun pong may mga social media account nako usong-uso, kitang-kita ‘yung pa-raffle, kitang-kitang may pa-premyong ganito, kitang-kitang may ginagamit pang bata bata kapag dun sa inyong mga programa eh pakiiwasan niyo po ‘yan dahil kami po sa Comelec ay naka-monitor,” he added.
(Those candidates with social media accounts, where they even hold raffles, there are prizes, where even children were being used in the programs, please avoid that because the Comelec is monitoring.)
Garcia said that the Comelec is fully aware that some politicians have tried to circumvent the law by saying that they are not yet considered “candidates” since the illicit acts were made prior to March 2, but since the campaign period has begun, the commission will now start going after violators.
Garcia likewise urged the candidates to also monitor the activities of their rivals and report any violation to the poll body.
“At siyempre dun po sa magkakalaban, maganda po na mag-monitoran kayo. Maganda po kayo mismo ang titingin, papansin doon sa mga kalaban niyo sa posisyon kung sila’y nagviviolate. Sumbong niyo sa amin at ‘yan po ay aaksiyunan namin,” he added.
(And of course, for the rivals, it’s good for you to monitor each other. It would be good if you would look and pay attention to your opponents in the position if they are violating. File a complaint to us, and we will take action.)
He also urged the public to file complaints if they see and have evidence against candidates violating election rules, saying they will recognize complaints filed before them in social media.
“Pwede kami mag-take cognizance sa mga complaints niyo sa mga nai-post niyo sa social media. ‘Wag kayong mag-aalala dahil hindi po kami bingi at bulag sa mga ganyang reyalidad,” Garcia said.
“‘Yung mga kababayan natin na may credible na ebidensya, at mabigat na ebidensya patungkol sa vote-buying at iba pang violation, pwede niyo pong isulat agad ‘yan sa amin dito po sa aming Comelec law department at ‘yan po ay agad nating aaksiyunan,” he added.
(Those of our compatriots who have credible and heavy evidence regarding vote-buying and other violations, you can write about it here in our Comelec law department, and we will act on that immediately.)
The Comelec is also now establishing a task force against fraud and vote-buying, and it is set to pick its members on Wednesday, he said.
“Ito pong darating na Miyerkules ay atin pong ico-constitute na at itatalaga na ‘yung mga miyembro po ng task force kontra daya natin,” he said.
(This coming Wednesday, we will constitute and appoint the members of the task force against fraud.)
He said this will be headed by the Comelec, and the Department of Justice, the National Bureau of Investigation, the Philippine Information Agency and the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines will be members of the task force.
“Isa po talagang multi-agency task force po ‘yan na hihingan natin ng tulong para iparating sa lahat, hindi lamang sa ating mga kandidato kundi lalong-lalo na sa mga mamamayan na seryoso po ang inyong Commission on Elections, ang inyo pong pamahalaan na masawata, pigilan ang issue ng vote-buying,” he said.
(It is really a multi-agency task force that we will ask for help to convey to everyone, not only to our candidates but especially to the people, that your Commission on Elections and the government is serious about preventing the issue of vote-buying.)
“Dahil pagka po may vote-buying ay hindi po nagrereflect ‘yung tunay na sentimyento ng ating mga kababayan,” he added.
(When there is vote-buying, it does not reflect the true sentiments of our countrymen.)
Under the Omnibus Election Code, vote-buying and selling are punishable by imprisonment ranging from one to six years, the Comelec said. – Jericho Zafra, INQUIRER.net intern
On its own, Comelec to file raps vs vote-buying