Comelec to regulate online election campaigning

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — The 2016 elections is poised to be the most challenging elections for poll monitors. 

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) will be coming up with a set of rules to regulate election campaigning — online.

More than ad spaces online, Comelec will be imposing rules on campaigns aired and published on video sharing sites, blogs, and other social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Comelec said on Friday (August 7) that social media is seen to play a significant role in elections next year.

The platform is accessible and most use it as a source of information.

Information that can be the deciding factor for a voter's choice of candidate.

Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez, however, said that in regulating social media, the poll body has to be careful that it's not violating freedom of expression.

"Blogs are actually a very prolific source of political content. But the problem there is you can't prove that the blogger has accepted money, and is therefore part of campaign machinery," Jimenez said.

Jimenez said the focus now would be on how much candidates spend on producing what would be aired on video sharing sites, and published on blogs.

As general rule, he said, what is paid for should be regulated.

IT law expert JJ Disini said Comelec would need to draw the line on what would be considered as payment and on how to trace those payments.

He, however, said regulating the digital arena has its limits and at the end of the day, it would still be up to voters to discern what to take as legitimate information.