The Commission on Elections on Monday said that only 3 percent of the national and local candidates for the May 13 midterm elections have complied with the poll’s requirement for candidates to register their websites and social media accounts.
Comelec spokesman James Jimenez warned candidates that failure to register the website names and addresses of their official blog and social media pages would be considered an election offense.
“They have still three weeks to comply before election day,” he said.
Under Comelec Resolution No. 10488, all candidates, political parties and party-list groups must register the website names and addresses of their official blog and social media pages, and failure will be considered an election offense, which carries the penalty of one to six years imprisonment, removal of right to vote, and disqualification to hold public office.
Comelec data show only 1,473 of the 43,554 candidates had registered their websites and social media accounts, as of April 4, 2019.
Of the 62 senatorial candidates, only 29 have been compliant while out of 134 party-list groups, only 69 had complied with the Comelec requirement.
For congressional candidates, the Comelec monitored only 58 congressional candidates had registered out of the 633 congressional candidates nationwide.
Jimenez admitted that not all candidates had put up websites and social media accounts for their campaign “so it’s possible that they have nothing to submit.”
Registering websites and social media accounts is not a “hard” rule but only a “directory requirement” by the Comelec, he said.
He said that since social media in the country are unregulated and distribution of campaign materials on the internet is largely free, it can monitor only expensive websites or those with well-produced videos or have celebrities as endorsers.
The new rules would not regulate the content of social media but only their cost.
Diplomats on Monday said overseas absentee voting (OAV) was generally successful as Filipinos abroad
began casting their votes.
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At the Philippine Embassy in Moscow, which covers the Russian Federation, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Ukraine, and Belarus, more than 30 Filipinos cast their ballots on the first day of voting.
“Everything is well. No problems so far except for a few people whose names were not in the certified list of overseas voters for our post, which we hope to resolve soon with the Commission on Elections,” Ambassador Carlos Sorreta said in a text message.
At the Philippine Consulate General in Jeddah, hundreds of registered Filipino voters flocked to the consulate on Saturday.
“The turnout is impressive and satisfactory,” Consul General Edgar Badajos said in an earlier interview in Jeddah.
Submitting a report from Guangzhou, the Consulate General in the area reported that the conduct of the voting was problem-free.
“Guangzhou PCG is expecting approximately 1,000 voters within its jurisdiction as Filipinos all over the world take part in the democratic exercise,” it said.
The same goes for the conduct of overseas voting at the Philippine Embassy in Washington DC.
“The first day of overseas voting passed without incident. The embassy expects to receive more accomplished ballots in the coming days,” Darell Artates, public diplomacy officer at the Embassy said.
In Japan, Consul General Robespierre Bolivar said Filipinos were “enthusiastic” about the 2019 elections and trooped to the embassy on the first two days of voting.
On Saturday and Sunday, the embassy’s Special Ballot Reception and Custody Group received at least 80 ballots through the mail.
“Today, April 15, the Embassy’s Special Board of Election Inspectors (SBEI) will feed this first batch of ballots into the vote counting machines,” he said.
Bolivar said the embassy is now mailing the remaining voting packets to the registered voters since there are almost 40,000 ballots that have to be sorted and mailed to voters in Japan.
For the 2019 national and local elections, a total of 1,822,173 Filipinos overseas registered for the OAV.
Of this number, 401,390 are based in the Asia Pacific Region, 887,744 in the Middle East and African region, 187, 632 in Europe, and 345,415 in the North and Latin America. With PNA
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