By ATTY. GREGORIO Y. LARRAZABAL
Since the issuance of Comelec Resolution No. 10488, which contain the Rules and Regulations implementing RA 9006, the “Fair Elections Act,” a lot of questions/clarifications have been asked either through my Twitter Account, my Email, or personally. Thus, I deemed it helpful, if in this week and the next two week’s column, we’ll try to dissect and discuss the “social media” provisions incorporated in Comelec Resolution No. 10488. We’ll also talk about the things that possibly need to be discussed and explained more by Comelec.
There are several innovations incorporated in Resolution No. 10488. These include:
In Sec. 1, item no. 3, the term “Social Media Associates” – refers to contractors whose primary duty is to promote the election or defeat of any candidate through social media.
NOTE:Please take attentionto the following qualifiers in order for one to fall under this designation:
- The individuals are contractors. Thus, there is a fee or form of compensation which is given to the individual in exchange for the services rendered.
- The individual’s “primary” duty is to promote the election or defeat of a candidate thru social media. This means that the primary intent of the individual is clear.
NOTE: These two elements need to be present in order for the individual to fall under the designation of a Social Media Associate.
In Sec. 1 (4)(b), a new activity is included under the definition of Election Campaign or Partisan Political Activity. It provides:
- Creating on any social media platform, user groups, or community pages, for the purposes of conducting campaigns or related partisan political activity.
NOTE: Even if the activity covers ALL social media platforms, Comelec must provide a list of the various social media platforms that falls under this label. Not many candidates, and especially supporters of candidates are well versed with social media. For local elections, boots on the ground had for the longest time provided the best and most effective method of campaigning. Having a list provided by Comelec is crucial in order for this provision to be adequately implemented and monitored.
In Sec. 1 (7), “Mass Media” now includes “Social Media.”
NOTE: What this means is that social media is now acknowledged as a means of transmission and communication of information to a larger audience. However, there has to be a clearer explanation from Comelec as to the parameters and the degree of inclusion of those engaged in social media fall under the label of “Mass Media Entities.” Is there a benchmark or threshold that can and should be used? Will those who fall under such designation have to be full-time in the practice of social media? If so, what does full-time mean?
Sec. 1 (11) included the following paragraph as falling under the definition of “Political Advertisement” or “Election Propaganda”:
Political advertising includes endorsements, statements, declarations, or information graphics, appearing on any internet website, social network, blogging site, and micro-blogging site, which – taken as a whole – has for its principal object the endorsement of a candidate only, or which posted in return for consideration or are otherwise capable of pecuniary estimation.
NOTE: There are several matters which Comelec needs to clarify here. These include the threshold as to determine if, “taken as a whole,” the principal object is the endorsement of a candidate; the determination of what constitutes a “principal object.” If one does it for free and without any compensation, does it not fall under this prohibition?
There are several more provisions of Comelec Resolution No. 10488 which need further clarification. And these provisions not only deal with social media, but also monitoring and regulating traditional campaign methods. We’ll discuss more in the next few columns. Hopefully the discussions will help bring clarity.
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