April 7, 2010 · Posted in: General

Election laws lost in cyberspace

In cyberspace today, candidates for national and local posts prance and play, bicker and babble, like there is no tomorrow. After all, election laws specific to political campaigning on the Internet do not exist as yet. A digital free-for-all has ensued among candidates who have made the so-called New Media yet another battleground for votes.

And well they should, if the stats add up. The number of Filipino Internet users is now pegged at around 24 million, and mobile phone users at around 63 million. Even before the campaign period could start, these candidates have been busy putting up complex, interactive websites of their own, as they litter popular online publications, blogs, and social networks with political propaganda. Text-blasting, or the sending of unsolicited SMS messages, appears to be on the rise as well.

Regulation has always been taboo in cyberspace, But with candidates using digital platforms to the point of driving Netizens nuts, there have been those who now think it’s high time the Commission on Elections stepped in. Indeed, the online battles have sometimes turned nasty and dirty – but also unregulated – in the absence of laws on campaign expenditure caps.

This two-part report was produced by the PCIJ’s Multimedia Team – associate producer Justine Espina-Letargo, platform architect Jaemark Tordecilla, and multimedia director Ed Lingao.

The PCIJ produced this report as part of our commitments to the Pera’t Pulitika (PAP) 2010 Consortium that is monitoring campaign-finance issues and reforms. Our esteemed partners in PAP are the Consortium for Electoral Reforms (CER), the Association of Schools of Public Administration in the Philippines (ASPAP), and the Lawyers’ League for Liberty (Libertas).

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