December 8, 2022

The Commission on Elections will regulate political advertisements posted on social media and assemblies in view of the restrictions on face-to-face interactions during the campaign period.

Just like the guidelines on the placement of advertisement on traditional forms of media, Comelec Resolution 10730 issued Nov. 17 states that all electoral ads must disclose that the ad was paid and the identities of those who paid for the material.

Comelec requires each registered political party, coalition, or candidate to register the website name, web address of all platform-verified official accounts, websites, blogs and other social media accounts with the Comelec Education and Information Department (EID) within 30 days from the last day of the period of filing of certificates of candidacy.

Other websites, blogs, or social media accounts that are not registered but have the purpose of endorsing a candidate whether or not directly maintained by the candidate or their official campaign representatives will be considered additional official websites, blogs, or social media accounts, which will also have to be regulated, the Comelec said.

Only verified accounts, websites, blogs, and/or social media accounts may be allowed to post political ads. 

In general, Comelec does not allow microtargeting but may permit if this is specific to a geographic location, age, and gender.

Microtargeting is a tailored form of advertising that target commonly browsed sites, social media accounts or blogs of an individual or a certain group.

Comelec also said information contained in online campaign propaganda shall be truthful and not misleading, nor shall it tend to cast doubt on the integrity of the electoral process. 

Companies providing Internet-related services, whether or not incorporated under Philippine laws, which a candidate or party hired to reach out to voters and mobilize support through the use of ads, paid promoted hashtags/trends, are required to submit to the Campaign Finance Office information or documents containing the name of the candidate or party in the advertisement, the name of the person or advertising agency/public relations firm that paid the advertisement, page name or account name or handle where the advertisement was posted, originated, or uploaded, the particulars of the political advertisement, and the cost of the ad.

The Comelec EID will also provide a platform for free livestreaming of e-rallies of national candidates as well as party-list organizations.

The e-rally livestreams shall be posted on the Comelec’s official social media accounts. During each livestream, the candidate will be allowed to see live comments to his livestream. The candidate may or may not respond to live comments.

Any political party or any candidate, individually or jointly with other aspirants, may hold online political meetings, rallies, or other similar activities during the campaign period. Such online political meetings, rallies, and similar activities are not covered by the limitations on broadcast advertising.

Comelec also requires that e-rallies should be explicitly identified as a political meeting or rally; confirms compliance with minimum health protocols; and provide the date, time, and location, recorded and submitted to the EID within 72 hours from airing.

Candidates are not allowed to give gifts to livestream audiences, nor to run promotions and campaigns that will award in-platform gifts or game currency to platform users and livestream audiences.

For physical assemblies, candidates or political parties are required to apply for permit to hold a public meeting or political rally to the concerned local government. After filing, the application shall be posted in a conspicuous place in the city hall or municipal building. The official before whom the application is filed shall submit to the local election officer on the first working day of each week the list of applications, if any, filed during the previous week and the action taken.

Within 24 hours after the conclusion of any in-person campaign activity, the campaign organizing staff shall submit a notarized affidavit of compliance with health protocols to the local Comelec.

The campaign period for national candidates and party-list representatives is from Feb. 8 to May 7, 2022 and from March 25 to May 7, 2022 for candidates for the House of Representatives and local positions. – Rimaliza A. Opiña