File photo: Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., the son of the late Philippine strongman Ferdinand Marcos, waves to the crowd be he talks at a gathering of a religious group in suburban Quezon city, north of Manila, Philippines on Sunday. Five candidates are running for President in the coming elections this May. Image Credit: AP

Manila: The Philippine government ordered Facebook Inc., Lazada Group and Sea Ltd's Shopee to stop selling unregistered portable mobile phone transmitters, which a local media said may be used by politicians campaigning for the May 2022 elections.

The National Telecommunications Commission said the sale of these equipment, which can send text messages to nearby mobile-phone users, violates the law on radio control as well as an order prohibiting the use of portable cellular mobile repeaters.

The machines were being sold for as much as 3 million pesos ($59,256) each in online shops, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported on Oct. 10, saying that political groups could be secretly using them.

The NTC told the online shops to stop selling the device marketed as "Hitech SMS Blaster" and their representatives to appear before the commission on Oct. 27, according to the regulator's Oct. 11 order. The equipment may not be sold, bought or used except by the disaster management council and other authorised state agencies in times of emergency, NTC Deputy Commissioner Edgardo Cabarios said in a mobile-phone message.

Lazada has removed the products highlighted by the NTC, a company spokesman said, adding that it won't hesitate "to take strong actions against parties found involved in illegal activities."

Marcos Jr campaign used text blaster

Earlier this month, the NTC ordered an investigation into emergency text blasts announcing the presidential bid of ex-senator Ferdinand Bongbong Marcos Jr as the son of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos was filing his candidacy. The camp of Marcos said on Oct. 6 that it supports the probe.