Beginning October, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) will consider the ads of political candidates in social media to be part of the candidates’ campaign expenses for the May 9, 2022 elections and will be regulated as such.

The poll body will come up with guidelines to compute the social media ads of candidates who are expected to turn to social media due to pandemic restrictions against mass gatherings.

“It is an election like no other because the rules of the game must change. The method of campaign will have to change,” Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon said in an online town hall meeting on Thursday.

“There’s a lot of reliance on social media as a campaign platform, which is difficult for Comelec to compute in terms of campaign expenses. We are hoping that experts will be able to help us with that,” she said.

“We are looking for a way to compute ads through social media like Facebook and Twitter … We cannot regulate the use of social media [for campaigning]. We don’t have the technology for that. But I think we can compute the expenses if Facebook or Twitter will help,” Guanzon continued.

For next year’s elections, Comelec will also consider as part of campaign expenses any ads released by the candidates as soon as they file their certificate of candidacy (COC) in October, rather than at the official start of the campaign period in February next year.

Comelec limits authorized campaign spending depending on the position and all candidates are mandated to submit their campaign expenses after the elections.

“I think the majority of us agree that once the candidate files their COC, then the clock starts ticking for campaign finance so all expenses should be counted from the time immediately upon submission of the COC,” Guanzon said.

Guanzon, one of the six Comelec commissioners, said she would like to have the social media campaign guidelines in place before her term ends on Feb. 2 next year.

The other Comelec members are Chair Sheriff Abas and Commissioners Socorro Inting, Marlon Casquejo, Antonio Kho Jr., and Aimee Ferolino.

Source: Dona Z. Pazzibugan/Philippine Daily Inquirer
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