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Comelec monitoring vote-buying through social media

MANILA, October 23 ------ The Commission on Elections (Comelec) said it is also monitoring social media campaigns for possible instances of vote-buying and - selling in connection to the upcoming Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections (BSKE). In an interview on Teleradyo Serbisyo, Comelec Spokesperson John Rex Laudiangco said supporters may send digital coins, stars or chips to candidates during e-rallies but this cannot be done the other way around. Candidates giving any kind of token may be considered as an act of vote-buying, Laudiango said.

Laudiangco also reiterated that Comelec would go after vote-buying through online banks and e-wallet applications with the help of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, Anti-Money Laundering Council, the Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation, and e-wallet companies. One thing that these agencies and companies will look out for is a sudden surge in the frequency of transactions from a particular sender to a locality. “Wala namang conclusion agad. Kapag binigay ang informatioin, iva-validate namin ‘yan,” Laudiangco said.

He said compared to the 2018 BSKE, illegal campaigning this year has lessened. But this does not mean that they would be lenient. On the contrary, the poll body even said they intensified their fight against this since there are still violations. In Barangay 133 and 73 in Caloocan, ABS-CBN News saw campaign posters on electric posts despite the numerous warnings from Comelec. Election watchdog Legal Network for Truthful Elections (LENTE) has also monitored instances of illegal campaigning.

Lawyer Ona Caritos, LENTE's executive director, reminded local government officials that they should not endorse candidates because the village elections must be apolitical. In a separate interview on TeleRadyo Serbisyo, Caritos explained that this is important so that residents who did not vote for a particular candidate will not be deprived of basic services. Comelec Chairman George Garcia said Friday that even officials in national posts may be charged with violations of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees if they endorse candidates.



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