MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has opened an email address where the Filipino public can formally report potential election offenses that they had witnessed.
The campaign season for the 2022 polls began in the Philippines on Tuesday, February 8, which meant that aspirants for national elective posts have become official candidates, and are thus subjected to a set of rules by which they need to abide.
“Right now…we’re able to accept incident reports or reports of allegations of wrongdoing through firstname.lastname@example.org,” Comelec spokesman James Jimenez told reporters on Tuesday.
“On Twitter, we are asking everyone to use the hashtag #sumbongko. This will allow us to identify among the mass of tweets potential violations of election laws,” he added.
Jimenez noted that the protocol would be to refer reports that the main office receives to field offices which have the closest possible connection to the locus of the offense.
“For example, if you’re seeing a potential violation happening in Manila, this complaint will be referred to the election officer in Manila,” he said.
On Twitter, Jimenez also advised the public who will report election violations such as vote buying to “pursue the case to the end.”
The Omnibus Election Code lists what constitutes an election offense, including vote-buying and vote-selling, bribing voters, coercion, unlawful electioneering, and use of public funds, among others.
Penalties for anyone found guilty of an election offense include at least one-year imprisonment, and disqualification from public office.
Violation of minimum public health standards, meanwhile, falls under Republic Act No. 11332 or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act, and the complaint “shall be lodged with the prosecutor’s office, and not with the Comelec law department,” Comelec director Lai David said on Tuesday.
Jimenez previously asked the public to manage expectations, as all reports of election violations will undergo due process.
“Do not expect that someone will be disqualified tomorrow if you see a violation today,” he had said. – Rappler.com
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