Election lawyer Romulo Macalintal has warned social media ‘trolls’ and anyone who spreads lies online about the May 9 elections that they might go to prison for violating election laws.
Online trolls who post and help spread false information, including unsubstantiated gossip and rumors, could be violating Section 261, Article XXII of the Omnibus Election Code, which enumerates election offenses.
During a news forum, Macalintal was quoted saying, “Iyon na lamang gagawa ka ng mga tsismis, mga balita na hindi naman pala totoo na magcu-cause ng harm sa taumbayan o sa mangyayaring halalan, that is an election offense.”
To be clear about who these violators of the Election Code are, as per Article XXII Section 261, Par. (z) (11), the list includes all these people and the following offenses.
“Any person who, for the purpose of disrupting or obstructing the election process or causing confusion among the voters, propagates false and alarming reports or information or transmits or circulates false orders, directives or messages regarding any matter relating to the printing of official ballots, the postponement of the election, the transfer of polling place or the general conduct of the election.”
The election lawyer added that guilty offenders may be sentenced to one to six years of imprisonment and will be removed of their right to vote.
If the trolls are confident enough to continue with their malicious social media posts with the thought that they use fictitious names online, Macalintal is quick to remind them that the NBI and Comelec even managed to apprehend the Comelect database hacker.
As for people who make or share social media posts and news reports maligning any candidate, the lawyer said that if the candidate chooses to, he or she can pursue a legal action against such people.
Before you post or share anything on your social media account, make sure that it is not in violation of any of the offenses cited above. Let us respect each other’s choices. And when arguments can be avoided, make valid arguments for or against a certain candidate. Let’s not resort to name-calling and other offensive reactions.
Be Informed. Beat the Trolls, Share the Truth!