Philippine poll body uses social media for violations

Manila (Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN) - With the campaign period set to begin next week, the Philippines' Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Friday urged the public to use the social media to report any election violation.

Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said the public could report violations -like oversized posters or illegally posted campaign materials -to the poll body's Twitter account: @comelec.

"They can tweet us the pictures... The whole idea here is to get the public to report violations. Basically, this is social media versus guns, goons, and gold. That's the philosophy we're working on," Jimenez said in an interview.

He said the Comelec already has a team in its Education and Information Division ready to collate reports and have these investigated.

Easy monitoring

"We have 35 committee members and we will be augmented. What's good about this kind of monitoring is your net can be as wide as the entire country and you can control it from just two or three computers," Jimenez said.

He said the tweeter could file the case or the Comelec itself could initiate the case against erring candidates.

"Again, the Comelec has the authority to motu proprio initiate action. So, if we get a report from the public, then that can be a strong point for us," Jimenez said.

He said that Comelec would give candidates three days to remove or pull down their offending campaign material

Warning notification

"When the campaign starts, these (erring) candidates will be receiving notice that they have materials posted and so they will now have three days upon receipt to take down these materials," Jimenez said.

"If they don't take down these materials within those three days, they will be held liable for that. Also, the burden will be on them to prove that it was done by someone else," he added.

Jimenez said that if the candidates do not take down offending campaign materials, the poll body "will assume that material is there for their benefit."

He acknowledged that political campaigns were now more complicated, with more and more avenues becoming open for campaigning.

"The idea of a campaign has now expanded. There are now so many avenues for campaign so it's becoming more complicated. This social media reporting system that we are preparing is just one response to that growing challenge but there have to be others," Jimenez said.

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