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.