MANILA, Philippines—Team PNoy now wants the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to clarify its rules on campaigning via social media, saying that existing election laws do not “specifically” mention about it.
One of Team PNoy senatorial candidates, former Senator Jamby Madrigal, is now facing an investigation by the Comelec for supposedly holding a contest on Facebook, promising to give an iPad to the winner.
But Deputy Speaker Lorenzo “Erin” Tañada, in a press conference on Wednesday, noted that the Omnibus Election Code does not mention about the use of social media.
“There’s nothing specific with regard to social media. If you look at the Omnibus e Election Code, wala e. Kaya nga ang tanong nga dito, kung hindi ito binanggit sa Omnibus Election Code, then can it be applied to social media?” Tañada said.
When the law was crafted, he said, lawmakers did not envision that the social media would be used in the campaign.
“This is a new platform that maybe at the time our election laws were being crafted, they never thought that the internet will be used as a platform of campaign. So hindi klaro talaga kung pwede nating gamitin iyong election laws sa social media. So this is something that we all would like to look into,” Tañada said.
While the principle of vote-buying was clear in the law, it was not however clear if the same can be applied on Internet.
“Kasi vote-buying in general, we know how it goes. Now in social media, is this going to be considered as vote-buying if simply there’s an offer, there’s an exchange, there’s value?” he said.
“I’m not saying I’m defending (Madrigal). This is where the grey area comes in. It’s a game that people are being asked to give their best anti-i corruption statement. And supposedly, based on what we saw a prize would be given. So is this necessarily considered vote-buying?” he further asked.
Tañada then suggested a review of the election laws after the 2013 elections.
It was Marikina Representative Romero Quimbo, another spokesman of Team PNoy, who first noted the “grey areas” in the rules now being applied for social media.
“Social media as a venue for campaigning is entirely a new terrain. It’s something that has not been used so actively as much as it’s being used today. And we need to be able to harmonize all our election laws so that candidates can have a clear picture as well as supporters on how we can use it,” Quimbo said in the same press con.
Madrigal’s lawyer, Ernesto Francisco, said the former senator has already apologized to the Comelec.
“We’d just like to make it clear that Senator Madrigal has no intention of violating the law. According to her, she’ll be the last person to violate any election law,” Francisco said.