Comelec sees social media as game changer in PHL elections
By Ferdinand G. Patinio

MANILA, Nov. 7 (PNA) -- An official of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) admitted that many people talk about the forthcoming elections on social media but how it would translate into actual votes remains to be seen.

“So awareness wise, yes we already know that social media already has a tremendous impact on the way people view the elections. But how people vote, that’s a question that has to be resolved,” said Comelec Spokesperson James Jimenez.

He added, “It remains to be seen whether or not ‘yung activity sa social media or interest sa social media will translate into actual votes. And we think it might”.

Jimenez said that they have predicted that social media will be a game changer in the country’s elections.

“That’s what we have been predicting for the longest time. In fact 2010 sinasabi na natin malakas ang epekto ng social media. 2013 din naniwala tayo dyan. To a certain increase nakita natin ang increase ng level of participation. And that can be attributed to social media,” he added.

The poll body official noted the role of social media will be tested in the May 2016 national and local polls since more than 20 million young Filipinos, most of whom are active or connected online, will be participating in the forthcoming elections.

“But now we think with the 2016 elections dyan nating talaga mararamdaman dahil more than 20m kabataan ang lalahok sa halalan na ito ang karamihan dyan wired. Nakakabit sila sa social media, nagkukuwentuhan sila and I think we are approaching the point where voting becomes a communal experience and dala yan ng social media,” Jimenez said.

He reiterated that these voters who are mostly online they should go out and vote and do not just talk about their candidates on social media.

“Now whether or not it will push any specific candidate into winner circle, that remains to be seen. It remains to be seen because number one kahit pinaguusapan sa social media kailangan pa din iactivate ang botante. Kahit ilang likes ang ibigay nya sa Facebook and kahit ilang beses ka nya iretweet sa Twitter, kung hindi sya bumoto wala pa din yon,” Jimenez added.

He cited the case in the 2013 polls, where some candidates, whom he did not identified, were being talked about online but did not make it to the winning list.

“Noong 2013, there were some candidates who were really really strong on social media and ended just short of the winning list. So we can be very close I think. Whether or not we push beyond that to the winning circe, ngayon yong potenitial is very high for that,” Jimenez said.

At the same time, the poll body official said that they are currently studying on how to regulate the social media.

“We’ve been looking at social media trend, we’ve been talking with people in that industry and we are studying the possibility of coming out with a separate rules on that. Apart from the fair election act rules and regulations,” he added.

In the 2013, the Comelec came up with rules in regulating campaign spending online particularly on online news sites.

“So meron tayong history nito. But ‘yung regulations, yung lilimitahan...wala tayong ginawang ganon. Ang ginawa para sa online campaign spending. News sites, halimbawa yong bumili ka ng space sa website ng tao, ng ads space. Kasama sa ireregulate ‘yan kasi ad spends yan,” he said. (PNA)

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