COMELEC Published 2013 Electoral Guidelines Now Includes Online Campaign

Written by | Opinion, Tech

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Last January 15, COMELEC published the REPUBLIC ACT NO. 9006, a.k.a. “FAIR ELECTION ACT” that was created to provide a “free, orderly, honest, peaceful and credible elections through fair election practices” – to say the least – and for the first time, it includes guidelines in how candidates should do their campaign online, while skimming through the resolution, there were some parts of the resolution that raised a number of red flags and lots of question marks.

COMELEC first and foremost protected our “our Right to Freedom of Expression”.

Personal opinions, views, and preferences for candidates, contained in blogs shall not be considered acts of election campaigning or partisan political activity unless expressed by government officials in the Executive Department, the Legislative Department, the Judiciary, the Constitutional Commissions, and members of the Civil Service.

And what can be considered Political advertising?

Political advertising includes matters, not falling within the scope of personal opinion, that appear on any Internet website, including, but not limited to, social networks, blogging sites, and micro-blogging sites, in return for consideration, or otherwise capable of pecuniary estimation.

This means that if a blogger posted an opinionated post about a candidate (probably saying something good), this means that it does not count as political ads, we all know that blog posts, status updates and tweet are 99.99% are personal statements and opinionated.

The resolution just like from the past election have specification as to how long and how many times a TV and Radio Ad should should be aired and on print media, the size of the ads, banner and where it should be posted are also there, COMELEC even encouraged parties and candidates to use recyclable and environment-friendly materials. So we’re all good here!

Now for the digital side of campaigning, just like in printed material, COMELEC specify the sizes that can be used on your political ad and they’re the standard “Rectangles and Pop-ups”, “Banners and Buttons” and “Skyscrapers” sizes, if you have an Adsense account (or just about any online advertising system) you should be familiar with the sizes.

Section 7.A

To print, publish, post or distribute any newspaper, newsletter, newsweekly, gazette or magazine advertising, pamphlet, leaflet, card, decal, bumper sticker, poster, comic book, circular, handbill, streamer, sample list of candidates or any published or printed political matter and to air or broadcast any election propaganda or political advertisement by television or radio or on the internet for or against a candidate or group of candidates to any public office, unless they bear and be identified by the reasonably legible, or audible words “political advertisement paid for,” followed by the true and correct name and address of the candidate or party for whose benefit the election propaganda was printed or aired. It shall likewise be unlawful to publish, print or distribute said campaign materials unless they bear, and are identified by, the reasonably legible, or audible words “political advertisements paid by,” followed by the true and correct name and address of the payor.

There’s no problem when it comes to traditional media, but what about online? If they’re creating a facebook ad – here’s what Carlo Ople have on this matter “For Facebook Ads we only have 90 characters for the body text. Just the initial “political advertisements paid by” is 32 characters already. That doesn’t even include the name and address of the payor. or what about promoted tweets?

Section 9.C

Said online advertisement, whether procured by purchase, or given free of charge, shall not be published more than three times a week per website during the campaign period. For this purpose, the exhibition or display of the online advertisement for any length of time, regardless of frequency, within a 24 hour period, shall be construed as one instance of publication.

We can just assume that COMELEC means that ad placement and it looks like an ad placement can only be placed on a certain web site for at least 3 days a week, since no matter the number of pageviews, if the online ad was there for more than 24 hours, it means it’s one instance. The problem is that COMELEC did not specify as to how many Ads can a candidate or party can place on a web site.

Section 9.3

For the above purpose, each broadcast entity and website owner or administrator shall submit to the Commission a certified true copy of its broadcast logs, certificates of performance, or other analogous record, including certificates of acceptance as required in Section 7(b) of these Guidelines, for the review and verification of the frequency, date, time and duration of advertisements aired for any candidate or party through:

This is important to any web publishers, bloggers and website owners who placed ads on their sites, I know there is an area on Adsense where we can check the frequency, date, time and duration of advertisements. What I did last year as just block any political ad, just to avoid the hassle. 🙂

There are still a lot of loop holes that candidate can take advantage when running a campaign, most specially in the online platform. COMELEC did not include facebook pages, twitter accounts, youtube videos – if a TV ad is uploaded to youtube, will be considered as a online or still a TV ad? Then last, what if a candidate has a personal web site how will COMELEC treat that site, will be as an advertisement or just a regular site? Another thing that COMELEC missed are those Viral Videos and Memes!

It’s safe to say that no web site owner will be rich from this coming election (except of course if you also own a TV and Radio Station) but that one who will get the most opportunity in this coming election are social media guru, online marketers and SEO/SMO and I bet every national candidate their own tech team or at least consulted with an Internet expert, which I think COMELEC should have done before releasing “2013 Electoral Guidelines”

Image Credit: io9

Last modified: January 24, 2013

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