The electoral campaign in the new normal
Social media, long a part of the savvy politician’s arsenal, has become even more important as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to plague.
Social media campaigns have been classified by Comelec as a form of broadcast advertising. PHOTO BY MAGNUS MUELLER FROM PEXELS
Certainly, social media remains the second fiddle to traditional face-to-face campaigns, which typically culminate in a big miting of the lead on the eve of election day.
Covid-19, however, has changed the way the game will be played in the 2022 election. Lockdowns could derail rallies, for example, and strict implementation of health protocols may prevent supporters from attending. events.
“Certainly, there will be changes in the actual campaign. It will never be the same again. There are apprehensions that it (the face-to-face campaign) is a super-diffusion event,” said the commissioner of the Comelec, Antonio Kho Jr., citing Covid -19 spikes in India cases following unregulated political rallies.
Kho admitted that there are currently no laws regulating social media campaigns, but due to the pandemic, the Election Commission (Comelec) has been urged to take action to control its use in elections.
“It is a checkpoint to pay vloggers and websites, among others. It will be linked to the state of expenses of the candidates. We will control them on the expenses,” he explained.
Social media campaigns have been classified by Comelec as a form of broadcast advertising to ensure that potential candidates meet spending limits.
Comelec spokesman James Jimenez also said online or social media campaigns could be the new normal for 2022 polls. The commission, he said, is considering limiting campaigns traditional face-to-face meetings following the uncertainties caused by the virus epidemic.
The polling body, Jimenez added, has previously urged the Interagency Working Group on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) to discuss the matter. With some 80 million Filipinos to be vaccinated, the implementation of the vaccination program could last until 2024, noted Comelec.
In the absence of collective immunity, it would be in the best interest of all concerned to limit face-to-face campaigns to control the spread of Covid-19, Jimenez said.
Comelec commissioner Antonio Kho Jr. admitted that there are currently no laws regulating social media campaigns, but due to the pandemic the Electoral Commission (Comelec) has been urged to take action to control its use in elections. PHOTO FILE
However, the poll watchdog Legal Network for Truthful Elections (Lente) – the citizen arm of Comelec in the 2019 midterm elections – strongly opposed the ban on face-to-face campaigns. , claiming that limiting this to online platforms “goes against the norm of democratic elections,” as it will reduce the people’s right to be informed about candidates and political parties.
“It is Lente’s position that Comelec should authorize all forms of political campaigns in accordance with the law but implemented in compliance with minimum health standards, with the aim of reducing the risk of transmission of the virus,” said declared the group.
He also stressed that the move would disadvantage candidates and political parties with few resources and limited capacity, and that a significant number of voters did not have access to the internet and social media platforms.
The group warned that the online campaign would lead to widespread violations of the Fair Elections Act. “The provision can also potentially open the floodgates to the relentless spending of well-resourced candidates and parties, as oversight and regulation of online campaigns remains weak,” he said.
Lente recommended that Comelec coordinate and consult the IATF, public health experts, political parties, civil society and other stakeholders in developing campaign guidelines.
The guidelines, he said, could include requiring the use of well-ventilated spaces, limiting occupancy and sanctions for erroneous candidates and political parties.
Lente also called on political parties and candidates to engage with Comelec to ensure that the campaign for the 2022 elections is effective, safe, fair and inclusive for candidates, political parties and voters.
The start of the campaign period under the Omnibus Election Code (OEC) is 90 days before elections for national candidates and 45 days for local candidates. The OEC also limits the campaign expenses of candidates.
Republic Law 9006 or the Fair Elections Law, on the other hand, regulates the size of printed campaign materials and limits television and radio advertisements.
In the 2019 polls, Comelec, for the first time in the country’s political history, monitored the social media spending of candidates and political parties. The commission en banc promulgated the Comelec resolution (CR) 10488, laying down the rules and regulations implementing RA 9006 or the law on fair elections.
Article 9-C of CR 10488 states that “each political party and registered candidate must register with the Education and Information Department of Comelec, the name of the website and the website address of the blog official and / or social media page of that political party or candidate. . “
Social media, according to Comelec’s rules, refers to all online communication channels, including websites and applications, which allow users to create and share content, collaborate and interact the ones with the others.