Long term monitoring of Philippine elections development.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

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.