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Solve vote-buying problem first, Comelec told

MANILA, Philippines —  Instead of granting the Commission on Elections additional powers that could regulate candidates’ use of social media, the Comelec should focus on addressing the perennial problem of vote-buying first, Lanao del Norte Rep. Khalid Dimaporo said Wednesday.

“I believe there’s no need to give Comelec any additional laws. They have what they need and if they really want to ensure an honest, peaceful and orderly elections next year, I would like to see them do something about vote-buying,” he said.

Dimaporo’s colleagues in the House of Representatives said a balancing act is necessary to regulate social media content.

“I think it is a very delicate balancing act of ensuring regulation and the freedom of expression and the freedom of information,” House Deputy Majority Leader Jude Acidre of party-list Tingog told reporters in a press conference.

He instead suggested implementing measures such as age restrictions for social media account holders to mitigate potential risks associated with online interactions.

Acidre also stressed the importance of verification processes to combat cybercrimes and cyber libel.

“In most cases, cybercrime, cyber libel or any of these, they thrive because of anonymity, they don’t know them,” he pointed out, advocating for measures to hold perpetrators accountable under existing laws.

Rather than direct regulation on social media, Acidre said the focus should be on ensuring that safeguards are in place.

He said there is also a need for government to invest in digital technology by informing users and promoting responsible usage.

Rep. Cheeno Miguel Almario of 2nd District Davao Oriental emphasized the importance of verifying information authenticity especially with the prevalence of fake news and the spread of deepfakes.

Deepfakes are produced with artificial intelligence (AI) and may come in the form of audio, photo or video. Deepfakes try to emulate certain personalities, particularly celebrities and politicians, to mislead people.

Yesterday, cybersecurity giant Trend Micro warned Filipinos of the dangers that they may face in the months leading to the 2025 elections, as political personalities and groups could exploit