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Spreading fake news on polls, an election offense punishable by imprisonment —Comelec

Spreading disinformation—fake news—as regards the conduct of the mid-term polls is an election offense, the Commission on Elections has warned.

Comelec spokesperson Director James Jimenez, in a press conference, said the commission had received reports of certain politicians spreading rumors about Comelec commissioners and other officials being on their payroll.

Another rumor has it that a malicious code has been embedded in the automated election system’s software that will automatically add votes to certain candidates when the vote counting machine’s internal clock strikes 3:00pm.

Jimenez also mentioned people going around barangays, showing fake lists of voters to disenfranchise those they perceive won’t vote for their candidates.

There are also online posts warning against shading a certain senatorial candidate’s oval because the ink will seep through the ballot and “shade” another senatorial candidate’s oval.

Jimenez denied all these rumors, warning that “undermining public confidence in the elections is an election offense.”

An election offense is punishable by six months to six years imprisonment, a fine, perpetual disqualification from holding public office and losing the right to vote.

If the offender is connected to a politician, “if malinaw ang connection to the politician, then madadamay ang politician,” and may also suffer perpetual disqualification from holding public office, Jimenez added.

Although Jimenez admits that online fake news are harder to trace, the Comelec can still pursue a case against the offenders if someone acts as the complainant. —NB, GMA News