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Comelec gets tough on campaign violators

The Commission on Elections is leaving it all up to its law department to decide on whether or not it will impose  sanctions on 19 senatorial candidates and 11 party-list groups facing disqualification for alleged electoral offenses. Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes made the statement after former senators Ernesto Maceda and Jamby Madrigal explained their side of the issue. The Comelec sent notices to the candidates and party-list nominees and gave them three days to remove the illegal campaign posters to avoid sanctions and possible disqualification. Madrigal showed up at the commission’s main office in Intramuros to clarify the online contest which appeared in her Facebook and Twitter accounts where it said that she was giving away an iPad. She admitted that she owns the accounts but it was her volunteers who manage all her social media accounts. “They volunteered to help my campaign, no harm was intended. I have learned a deeper lesson which I hope to address soon. This is a good indication of political maturity.” Brillantes said Madrigal’s written explanation will be forwarded to the law department for appropriate action. He added that he is hoping that the case of Madrigal will serve as a good example, especially to local candidates who officially start campaigning on March 29. Comelec law department head, lawyer Esmeralda Amora-Ladra had said that Madrigal’s online contest could be classified as vote buying under Section 97 of the Omnibus Election Code. But Madrigal’s lawyer Ernesto Francisco said his client cannot be held liable because social media is not covered by election rules, which was contradicted by Brillantes. With Maricel Cruz and Sara Fabunan
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