Comelec rule on Internet campaigning vague–Escudero

By: Norman Bordadora, January 19th, 2013 04:49 AM

Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero has expressed reservations over the Commission on Elections’ regulation on online election advertisements, saying it could be used by a candidate’s political opponents to derail his or her Internet campaign with unauthorized ads or social media postings.

Escudero, who is running for reelection, added that the Comelec’s rule on Internet campaigning “remains a vague issue, given the innovative concept of the Internet technology.”

Comelec Resolution No. 9615 provides that “online advertisement, whether procured by purchase, or given free of charge, shall not be published more than three times a week per website during the campaign period.”

Escudero said the Comelec’s Internet regulations had many loopholes, adding that the poll body had not yet developed the core competence to provide and define standards for its usage.

“It leaves more questions than answers. How can Comelec monitor it? For example, how do they count the minutes used by a particular candidate? What if someone uploads an ad without the candidate’s knowledge or permission? Will that be counted against his airtime?” Escudero told reporters.

“What if ill-meaning protagonists will use this free uploading just to discredit a political rival? These are realities that I hope the Comelec will tread with caution and consideration,” he added.

Escudero, nonetheless, welcomed the Comelec’s regulations on limited airtime hours a candidate could buy in the traditional media. He said this would level the playing field for all candidates.

“Those who have deep resources will no longer lord over the airwaves and leave those who have meager resources way, way behind,” Escudero said.

“At least no single candidate can put one over the other in terms of airtime. It’s a fair game for everyone, it’s a welcome thing,” he added.

Escudero, a front-runner of recent polls, is a common candidate of both the Liberal Party-led coalition and the United Nationalist Alliance.

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