Election lawyer Romulo Macalintal. INQUIRER.NET FILE
MANILA, Philippines — Election lawyer and Oposisyon Koalisyon (OK) senatorial candidate Romulo Macalintal has asked the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to ease up on its plan to regulate the use of social media in campaigning for the 2019 midterm elections.
Macalintal said in a statement on Thursday that the poll body should find a balance between setting limits for social media campaigning and ensuring that freedom of expression is upheld.
“We urge Comelec to find balance in regulation and protecting the freedom of expression,” he asked.
The senatorial bet’s request came after Comelec Spokesperson James Jimenez revealed that the poll body is planning to include expenditures for social media campaigning in the spending limits for candidates.
“We are looking at the possibility of strengthening monitoring of the expenses that go into materials which are propagated via social media,” Jimenez said on Monday.
He however clarified that social media use per se will not be regulated.
“It’s what you put on social media that’s going to be monitored for cost. For example, you put out a video that features a singer… what will be its cost implications? All of those have cost. So once you get that cost, ultimately, that’s what you’re going to need to report as part of your campaign expenses,” he added.
READ: Campaign on social media eyed in poll expense cap
Campaign on social media eyed in poll expense cap
For his part, Macalintal noted that it is social media which levels the playing field for candidates with less funds at hand — or those who cannot air advertisements or campaign materials through traditional media outlets.
He added that any additional ruling should be entered by amending the Omnibus Election Code and other election laws.
“The Comelec should first study if an amendment to the Fair Elections Act before it pushes through with its plan to issue a regulation regarding the use of social media for campaigning,” Macalintal explained. /cbb
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