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The Philippine Star : Comelec to monitor candidates’ spending on social media

News & Interviews
28 May 2021

By Robertzon Ramirez | The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The spending limit for political ads on social media will be strictly monitored by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) as it expects candidates in the 2022 general elections to maximize exposure in new media platforms.

Comelec Commissioner Antonio Kho Jr. said yesterday that they issued rules on how to monitor political ads on social media, which they have categorized as another form of broadcast media so that they can monitor the candidates’ spending limits.

“We will consider social media as broadcast (media) because we cannot stop them (candidates) from posting because that’s part of free expression. We will control that in relation to spending limits,” Kho said partly in Filipino.

Kho emphasized the need to draft measures to monitor candidates’ spending on social media since there is no specific law governing campaign ads for social media, unlike for television, radio and newspapers.

Also, the Comelec is anticipating how the use of social media would be “a major thing” in the campaign for the presidency.

Citing how the pandemic has prohibited mass gatherings, Kho stressed that social media platforms could be “a great equalizer” for candidates who have less to spend on the campaign trail.

Asked how the poll body would monitor social media spending, he said the statement of contributions and expenditures (SOCE) of every candidate in the 2022 national and local elections would have to be checked.

Kho stressed that candidates will have to take the SOCE seriously, warning that the Comelec is leaning on disqualifying candidates just as it did in the previous elections on the basis of violating rules on campaign contributions and expenditures.

Infighting in President Duterte’s political party – the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) – has become more apparent with its acting president, Sen. Manny Pacquiao, issuing a memo for partymates to ignore a national assembly being called by party vice chairman Alfonso Cusi in Cebu City.

Issued on May 25, the memo had the subject title “lgnore call for National Assembly” and stated: “You might have received Vice Chairman Alfonso Cusi’s letter calling for a national assembly on May 31, 2021. All concerned partymates are strongly advised to ignore the letter.”

PDP-Laban executive director Ron Munsayac, a signatory to the memorandum which has circulated in social media, confirmed that it was a legitimate memo from the party’s national headquarters. – Cecille Suerte Felipe