MANILA, Philippines - (UPDATE 6:52PM) The camp of administration senatorial candidate Jamby Madrigal blamed volunteers in her campaign for hatching the social media campaign offering an iPad as a prize,but she apologized to Comelec, which said the investigation has begun and continues though her apology is noted.
The Comelec had earlier warned that Madrigal could face disqualification.
Process has begun, Jamby not in the clear
Despite Madrigal’s apology, the investigation will continue, said the Comelec, and therefore the candidate is not yet off the hook.
In a telephone interview, Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said, “We appreciate it very much but the process has already started and it will have to play itself out,” noted.
While conceding that Madrigal’s apology could be a big factor in her favor as the poll body considers whether to sanction her or not, it does not mean that the investigation must stop automatically, said Jimenez.
Madrigal’s lawyer, Ernesto Francisco, told a press briefing that she had “no intentions of violating the election law” and “would be the last person” to do so, although he added that he was not sure whether the promo actually violated any statute since campaigning through social media is “unexplored terrain.”
“Sen. Madrigal’s social media campaign is being run by young volunteers,” Francisco explained. “When she heard about the incident, she immediately instructed her volunteers to immediately remove it.”
He added that they are investigating how the idea for what he acknowledged “is like a political gimmick that comes out in any election” was hatched, particularly “where the iPad came from.”
On the other hand, Quezon Representative Lorenzo Tañada III, a spokesman for Team PNoy, said at the same press briefing that the allegations against Medrigal would have “no effect” on the coalition’s other candidates.
He added that they initially had reservations about whether Comelec was “capable of monitoring” the conduct of the campaign but said the incident with Madrigal showed it was “trying to do its best” and should be “commended.”
“We have to encourage the Comelec to continue the monitoring of the campaigns of candidates. This is the way candidates are reminded of elections laws,” Tañada said same press briefing.
“We, at Team PNoy, always remind our candidates that they should try their best to comply with the rules and election laws in the country. What should be done is to reach out to the ground troops that they should comply with elections laws, but there are instances that volunteers in different areas have different initiatives. We need to tell them that there are elections laws to be followed,” he added.