Comelec eyes to prosecute individuals spreading fake news about exit polls

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 12) — The Commission on Elections is planning to go after individuals who are responsible for spreading results of unreliable exit polls.

"We will go after any individual na nagpapakalat ng (spreading) fake news. What will be the proper case or violation, we will likewise study that," Comelec Commissioner George Garcia told CNN Philippines' The Source on Tuesday. "The option that we have is prosecution."

Garcia said a newly-created task force will crack down on sources of fake news and disinformation. This comes after the camp of presidential Bongbong Marcos claimed to have secured majority of votes of overseas Filipino workers in Hong Kong and Qatar during the first day of overseas absentee voting on Sunday.

READ: Comelec forms task force vs fake news 

The Comelec earlier clarified that an exit poll is not tantamount to official election results.

"Under Republic Act 9006 or the Fair Election Act, exit polls, in the same manner as surveys, are allowed but this is just caution to our kababayans, to the Filipinos: exit polls are just polls. These are not the votes themselves on election day," Garcia stressed.

The commissioner also urged the public not to entertain exit polls, especially those employing dubious methods in favor of a certain candidate.

"Ang problem ho kasi natin sa mga exit polls din, pag lumabas, minsan 'yung botante 'pag tinanong, 'sino yung binoto mo?,' mamaya sabihin, 'si X ang binoto ko' pero si Y talaga ang binoto niya," he said. "It may not be that accurate, That is why we should stick to whoever we want to vote."

[Translation: Our problem with exit polls is that, once issued, voters who were asked could have said they voted for X but they actually voted for Y.]

"We should not believe 'yung mga bali-balita, yung mga 'Marites' na ganyan (Don't believe such rumor-mongers)," Garcia added. "What we should believe is really what's on our mind, our conscience. Vote on who you decide to vote on election day."

More than 65 million Filipinos have registered to cast their votes for their president, vice president, senators, and a party-list group of choice for the next six years. Overseas absentee voting already started on April 10, but these votes, along with the votes of majority of Filipinos will only be counted on May 9, election day.