It’s not an easy job, but someone’s got to do it.
“We’re stricter because the campaign activities have become really more rampant and exuberant, you know, in the past few years,” James Jimenez, spokesman of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) told Solar News in an interview. “It used to be that people didn’t want to spend too much on campaigns. But in the last few elections, it seems that more and more people have been pouring money into these campaigns to such an extent that legitimate candidates – other legit candidates – ithout that much, you know, in terms of funding, resources tend to get snowed over.”
With the new guidelines, Comelec defined what constitutes personal opinion as opposed to partisan activity in online media.
Candidates are now required to report their online advertising expenses.
Other new provisions include broadening the definition of what makes a place public.
Public places include:
- Electronic announcement boards
- Motor vehicles used as patrol cars, ambulances, and the like which are owned by local government units or government-owned or controlled companies
- Waiting sheds, streets, lamp posts, traffic signages
- Schools and other public structures
- Within public transportation terminals or vehicles
There is an expanded green clause for campaign materials which considers a ban on plastics in everal cities.
There is also a more defined exposure of candidates in broadcast media – specifically, 120 minutes of television advertising and 180 minutes of radio advertising for a national candidates and 60 minutes of television advertising and 90 minutes of radio advertising for a local candidates.
This is on top of an existing provision in the law that Comelec should provide free air time to candidates.
As for a proposal for Comelec to provide equal air time to candidates, Jimenez said this would be easier said than done.
“At this point no, because we don’t have the money to 120 minutes and divide it among the candidates,” Jimenez said.
What hasn’t changed is the set amount of expenses for each candidate.
Jimenez said the amount is set by law and cannot be regulated by the Comelec.
It’s a little small,” Jimenez said. “In reality, when you have such an unrealistic limit, all you’re doing is predisposing these people to, basically, violating the law, because, simply put: If they can’t work with three pesos per voter, then they wil do whatever they need to do.”
With this in mind, Jimenez said the Comelec has stepped up monitoring of violations, especially in social media.
“It’s not very difficult to monitor social media,” he said.
He added that any marketing strategy worth its salt would be easy to find.
The Comelec is also preparing an online crowdsourcing platform to be launched in the first week of February right before elections to gather public comments and complaints.
Jimenez said Commelc will also have at least 10 operators monitoring websites for any violations.