Long term monitoring of Philippine elections development.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

How can bloggers participate effectively in the 2010 Elections?

This is a draft concept paper that I just gave to the University of the Philippines College of Law Internet Society Program for project consideration. It is hope that more established interest groups will join and collaborate to make this project concept a reality. Note that this concept paper may be subject to change.

Here's a copy of the presentation material I discussed last November 24.

Project: Blogging and 2010 Elections Program


  • Discuss issues of importance that will assist voters in deciding on who to vote for by 2010.
  • Get in-depth 2010 election coverage on both national and local level
  • Have a facility where Filipinos can discuss, compare party platform, and go beyond motherhood statements.
Why do it?
  • There's no website or blog online at the moment where issues in relation to the election can be discussed ahead of time. This lack of information makes it hard to decide on who to vote for during elections.
  • Numerous election monitoring groups have personnel and volunteers capable to blog.
    • A lot of them have websites or blogs and recognize its usefulness. But most were late in setting up to maximize it.
  • Get more Filipinos involved worldwide concern about the future of the country and discuss issues of importance for the 2010 elections.
  • Spark interest of Filipinos in the election process.
Target audience:
  • Political parties
  • Media
  • Election monitoring groups
  • Independent / volunteer citizen bloggers
  • Voters
Proposed role of UP-ISP
  • Training resource
    • Organize forums from 2008 to 2010 that shall ramp up participation of bloggers in the 2010 elections
  • Aggregator
    • Create a blog site that shall receive feeds from bloggers who have joined or volunteered.
  • Tap “wisdom of the crowd”
    • Work with various interest group to help make this collaborative project a success.
Execution details
  • Blog site (2007-2010)
    • Set-up blog site
      • Add Philippines election content to mapping applications (e.g. Google Maps).
        • Find electorate
        • Read Congressional seat profile
        • Polling booth
      • View candidates (wiki)
        • Follow candidates
        • Financial info
      • Election videos / podcast by party
      • Issues monitor
        • What candidates have said on critical issues? Where do they stand? Where does their party stand? What do they intend to do?
        • Comparative analysis of solutions and financial data.
        • Broad-idea based subjects (technology, financial aid, democracy, ethics, etc.)
        • Election-related news
          • Follow candidates
        • Organize live chat sessions with candidates independent and working with media networks.
      • Polling
        • Share your polling experience.
    • Call for nationwide participation
      • Anyone can join.

  • Bloggers Forum (5 major training events from 2008 to 2010)
    • Election Coverage 101
      • journalistic guidance: research, fact-checking
    • Bloggers + Elections Handbook
    • Politicians, Platform, Parties
    • 2010 Election critical issues
    • Technologies / Tools for Election Coverage
    • Country case studies (lessons learned)
  • Through various interest and election monitoring groups, explore recognition of bloggers for election coverage and gain access to materials from:
    • Political Parties / Conventions
  • Transparency
    • Read full raw report from bloggers
    • Balance as different perspectives can be read
      • inspire discussion
      • commitment to facts
    • Citizen and grassroots empowerment
Success criteria
  • Get volunteer bloggers to cover election related developments from 131 cities, 1,497 municipalities, and 41,994 barangays.
  • Get funding sponsors to fully carry out the project. (December 2007 to July 2010)
    • website manager
    • content manager
    • project manager
    • trainings (minimum of 5)
    • Bloggers + Election Handbook
  • Get partners to carry out and conduct the trainings in the provinces.

Bloggers as Election Watchdog

When the idea of having a blogging and the 2010 elections forum first came to mind, Luz Rimban is one of those I consulted about it. Last Saturday, that finally happened with Luz, Atty. JJ Disini, and Rachel Khan in the panel.

Luz shared her perspective on bloggers acting as election watchdogs (presentation material). She started by citing the various gaps noticed by CMFR in the 2004 and 2007 elections that includes:

  • There were gaps in reportage in 2004 primarily on party-list elections, local elections, senatorial elections, and policy development issues.
  • In 2007, coverage was not as extensive partly due public disinterest and skepticism over electoral institutions. Coverage were more focused on Team Unity versus Genuine Opposition.
  • There were key issues that failed to turn out as election issues such as
    • Hello Garci scandal
    • Extra-judicial killings
    • Corruption
  • Linking of local issues and elections with national issues and contests did not happen either.
Some bloggers, on the other hand, have created specialized blogs or discuss election-related issues that includes observations during the election campaign, who they will vote and not vote for, among others. Election-themed blogs got most of its content from the mainstream media and other resources.

If bloggers will be active in the 2010 elections, Luz asked: (I shared my initial thoughts to each in this post.)
  1. Can bloggers fill the gaps? which gaps?
    If started early, I believe blogs and bloggers can exchange ideas on concerns that should become an election issue by 2010.

  2. How to do it?
    I'll be posting a separate entry for this one.

  3. How do bloggers work with other election watchdogs?
    They can join and help out election watchdogs. They can also remain independent and blog about developments as they see it happen.

  4. How do you excite the public and get them interested in the effort?
    I believe that there are a lot of Filipinos around the world who are very concern on where our country is heading and may even feel helpless at times as there's no venue for them to participate and share their perspective. Through the program (which I will post after this), if it materializes, shall serve as a forum where Filipino bloggers, newbie or old-timer, of various beliefs can come together and exchange insights and developments on election related concerns.
Luz also suggests that a program for getting bloggers involved in the election would require having an understanding on the:
  • political parties and candidates
  • the issues
  • the voting process
  • the media
Bloggers can discuss and monitor concerns in relation to:
  • Voter's rights:
    • Are all voters on the voters’ lists?
    • Are all voters free to hear and discuss the parties and issues without fear?
    • Do parties threaten voters or election officials or tell them for whom to vote?
    • Do parties or officials try to bribe voters with money, large gifts, or promises of jobs?

  • Candidates and party rights:
    • Are election rules and limits applied equally to all parties?
    • Are any powerful interests spending large amounts of money to support one particular party or candidate?
    • Are government officials neutral and not using government money or resources such as vehicles to favor one party?
    • Is the party in power announcing new projects at the start of the election campaign?

  • The election process:
    • Are voters’ lists complete?
    • Is the election commission impartial?
    • Does the election commission investigate and stop violations of election laws?
    • Does the private media provide reliable and fair reporting?
    • Does the private media treat all parties’ advertisements equally?
Further guidance on coverage can be found in the Media + Elections Handbook.

Friday, October 12, 2007

November 24: iBlog Mini: Blogging and the 2010 Elections

I'm currently organizing an iBlog Mini forum this November 24, Saturday, 9 am to 12 noon, at the UP College of Law.

The theme for the said event is: Blogging and 2010 Elections. Will post exact room info and names of resource persons as soon I get confirmation. This event will be formally announced as well in the iBlog website next week.

Here's the agenda.

9:00: Welcome remarks - Bloggers as Election Watchdog (Atty. JJ Disini and Luz Rimban)

9:20 - 9:50 - Blogging and Philippine Elections (Manuel L. Quezon III)
Review of how bloggers played a role in the past Philippine elections. Examples of how bloggers participated in other countries can be cited as well. What were the problems encountered? How can it be improved?

9:50 - 10:20 - Getting Bloggers Ready for 2010 Elections (Janette Toral)
How can Bloggers participate more effectively in the 2010 elections?
(present a program where bloggers can be prepared for the 2010 elections)

10:20 Reactor Insights (Rachel Khan)

Reactions/Open Forum/Snacks/Networking

This event is free. As seats are limited, you are encouraged to register ahead by posting a comment here.

Thank you.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Automated Elections in 2010?

I recently received a question asking if there's enough time to automate the 2010 elections.

It will be helpful to know if Filipinos are amenable to the idea of automated elections in 2010. An updated survey will surely be helpful to have an updated view on this. As long it is introduced by a credible COMELEC leadership, it can be done.

As Ducky Paredes kept emphasizing, election related preparations can't just be rushed. Else, it will create uncertain situation that harms the organization as well. Every government office, especially its leadership, always want to deliver better service to the people. However, forces beyond its control, like the legislature and various interest groups can either help or be a productive watchdog (give thumbs up or down accordingly) or make all efforts impossible. Their actions influences our perception on the COMELEC.

Any automation efforts, the planning and preparation for it must start as early as this year. If the automated election system was done right and securely, it may curb cheating.

The 2010 elections may be too near though. Perhaps it will be best to do some trials on 2010 in key areas like Metro Manila to begin with. Although there are similar proposals in Cebu too.


(January 31, 2010 Update)
The Automated Election this 2010 is expected to do the following: (as presented by James Jimenez last iBlog5)

  • The Precint Count Optical Scan (PCOS) prints EIGHT copies of the election returns
  • Election Returns are certified by the Board of Election Inspectors (BEI) Chair and watchers
  • Electronic copies in the PCOS are digitally signed
  • Digitally signed copies are sent to: MUNICIPAL CANVASSING; PROVINCIAL CANVASSING
  • Digitally signed copies are also sent to: COMELEC CENTRAL, MAJOR POLITICAL PARTIES, KBP, PPCRV, and POSTED ON THE WEB


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Loren Legarda's Civil Status, President or Vice President in 2010

In Marlen Ronquillo's column today, he asked whether Loren Legarda will go for the jugular. Indeed, the Senator lead the 1998 and 2007 race showing her popularity strength with the public. The question in the next three years is if will she be able to make a credible run for the presidency or vice-president.

Minor(?) Issue
However, like Datu Jamal Ashley Yahya Abbas, I'm also concerned on Senator Loren Legarda's civil status. When discussing with friends on who can be voted for in 2010, Senator Legarda is deemed as very competitive, then the discussion would sooner or later end up with her civil status, whether she is properly annulled or divorced, with her estranged husband.

If not and if she wins, will that make him her legal First Gentleman? Furthermore, if her husband will take in more wives, what will they be referred to? I agree with Datu Jamal Ashley Yahya Abbas's suggestion that Senator Legarda should settle this concern at the earliest time.

For one, I don't think many Filipinos would vote for a state leader whose civil status may unfairly be perceived as "one of the wives". Being in such a position may make her less credible to speak of women's concerns, who are mostly Catholic and where one husband/one wife is the natural rule.

No matter how good she is, this is one concern that may have a lot of weight in the future. We've seen how several mistresses or a notorious husband can affect a state leader's status. In this case, her husband can take in "legal wives". Will they also be given security and live in Malacanang as that makes them her legal family too?

More information about Senator Loren Legarda at:

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Long-term monitoring of Philippine Elections

I wrote a column two weeks ago on how bloggers delivered in their coverage of the 2007 elections and cited several lessons learned in that area. After more than a week, I got convinced to start this blog and try the ideas put forth then into action.

Through this blog, I hope of being able to do the following:

  • Monitor politicians that are perceived by a lot of people to be running in the 2010 national elections and monitor their activities hereon.
  • Use various forms of media source tools to get to know them better.
  • Include local government unit political developments.
  • Linkage and build a network relationship with election bloggers according to town and city for nationwide coverage.
  • Voters education and awareness on various issues.
Blogging has indeed come of age and will play an important role in monitoring political developments happening in the Philippines. I look forward to your ideas and suggestions!