Long term monitoring of Philippine elections development.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Putting young blood in Congress

I just got this e-mail from Rissa (lawyer and used to work for two prominent Senators) who gave me permission to post edited snippets of her letter in this blog:

"Hello there. My law classmates and I are thinking of pursuing a cause - Putting young blood in Congress by setting up an online search for a new breed of legislators.

Our premise is if we want change then maybe it is about time to elect a new breed, not the trapos since policy is made in Congress including budget. We feel this project may have impact. Thinking now of a battle cry. Only those 45-50 years and below, but i think minimum age is 35, to be voted.

The question - is this possible online and for free where people can suggest names and the people can add their support to names online and who knows by 2010 elections we could have a new breed para may new perspectives in Senate and House. Maybe better if their curriculum vitae can be posted also. Hope you can make this possible. Thanks."

Here are my thoughts on this subject, using the PMI thinking tool to explore it, and hope you can share yours too:

Plus points of the idea above:

  • New breed of legislators is such a romantic idea. I think we need young minds and new ways of thinking for solving our country's problem. Those who know that their decision will impact their lives 20 years after and not by those who may pass away a decade later and not see the ramifications of their action.

  • I think a simple blog can be a good start for this project. It is only important for Rissa and her lawyer friends to allot time in posting a name a week in their blog, starting with what they have and grow from there.
Minus points of the idea:
  • Those who are advocating for bloggers election coverage may not be able to participate as suggestion of names maybe perceived as personal endorsement of a potential politician candidate. Although I guess if one is transparent about it, at least readers will know where the blogger is coming from.

  • The identified "young blood" maybe qualified but are they politically-savvy enough? We've seen young blood in Congress or Senate shooting themselves at the foot for not observing proper protocol and too damn rookie to play within the process as Congress or Senate still requires a lot of inter-personal politicking to move an agenda forward.

  • Will these identified young blood stand a chance if they are not part of a political party that has an established political machinery? Or are these young blood part of a political wing already?
Interesting points of the idea:
  • To have a site focusing on independent candidates.
  • Have retired Senators or Congressman share their knowledge and wisdom to advise independent candidates.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Poverty in the Philippines

In preparing an entry for Blog Action Day, I found this book published by the Asian Development Bank titled Poverty in the Philippines: Income, Assets, and Access. Read it and be enlightened. I made a mind map as a brief interpretation on what was discussed in that publication.

(click on the image above to see its full size)

The concerns mentioned is more or less cited in the Philippines 2010 election issues discussion that we started this year.

What stand out and in reference to what is happening these days, in my observation, are as follows:
  • Political patronage
    Politicians indebted to their party mates and supporters can result to policies favoring the interest of the few (such as the scandal that Senator Manny Villar is currently embroiled in on his real estate company benefiting from government infrastructure projects).

    This is the same case on pork barrel where the politician has the main control as to which this limited resource goes to and it often boils down still, if not all, to political patronage.

    The same issue on the delayed land reform. The lack of access to land is a big contributor on income inequalities between the rich and the poor and urban to rural.

  • Accountable government
    The likes of Atty. Harry Roque who kept exposing government unusual debt aggregation (such as the latest railway project) is more than helpful. The corruption that emanates from the government and no one gets to be accountable for it leaves a bad taste to Filipino entrepreneurs, professionals, and employees who pay their taxes monthly. This on top of almost everything that we purchase is VAT-inclusive.

  • A non-tax paying but politically influential church
    Although not stated in the ADB report, the lack of population control programs in the country further contributes to the poverty state we are in and is one way or another influenced by the church. Worst, despite the fact that churches in the Philippines collects more contribution and rank one of the highest in the world, it doesn't pay taxes.

    Yet, it has unfair influence on population control programs but hardly spends to help the poor. Yes, they may have money to spend on outreach programs but they mostly come from church-goers (and as we've seen in the news - even from politicians and are therefore taxpayers money). I just wish that the next leaders of our country, heads and legislators, will have enough strength to put the church in its proper place on this issue.

    Running a country requires resources. A bigger population needs more money. If the church insists on pushing its stand on the population issue then it must begin paying taxes that can be used to help the poor with its need on health, food, shelter, education, among others.

  • Deterioration of the environment
    It is likely that we need to face an almost near deadline problem before government can start implementing environment related laws and policies. Much of the health problems, including those resulting to disability, of our countrymen are facing today is due to pollution. However, instead of penalizing and require more payment for pollutant causing vehicles, their fuel is even subsidized and implementation of the Clean Air Act delayed.
  • Encourage social participation
    There is so much that can be said about our country's situation. Continuing to pay our taxes, be informed, condemn wrongful actions done by government, and support efforts that intends to stop the culture of corruption must not wane. We have to continue believing that positive change is bound to happen for as long as Filipinos like you and me will remain vigilant and be willing to speak our minds.
Interesting post you can also read about this topic:

This is my entry for:

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Are there ARMM-based bloggers?

I'm not sure how to answer that question as my search for some did not yield success. Inquirer noticed it.

I got a few inquiries back then and even entertained the idea of having anonymous bloggers on board. But I guess ARMM is one area where blogging won’t blossom soon unless attention in developing the community is made.

That is why I’ve urged organizers of blogging activities, especially in Mindanao, to include election blogging as a topic to open the discussion.

I hope that with the creation of a Bloggers Election Handbook, more folks will be more comfortable in discussing and documenting the elections.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Bloggers Election Handbook: A guide for the aspiring citizen journalist

Since November last year, I have been advocating for the creation of a Bloggers Election Handbook. This idea was inspired by Luz Rimban and was discussed during iBlog Mini '07 and iBlog4.

So finally, here is the initial outline or mind map on what will be its content. The structure here is based on focusing solely on the conduct of elections.

(Click the mindmap for a bigger image)

The following ideas were thought of in its design and your feedback will be greatly appreciated. The mind map will have to be updated to reflect some of the changes made in this outline:
  • Elections
    • Process
    • Commission on Elections
    • Election Law
    • Rules
    • Observers
  • Candidates
    • Rights
    • Representation
    • Disclosure
  • Media
    • Types
    • Ownership
    • Reporting
    • Business and politics
  • Voters
    • Issues
    • Rights
    • Responsibilities
  • Issues
    • Funders identity
    • Government's role
    • Bribe
    • Threats
  • Blogs
    • Campaign developments and speeches
    • Issues
    • Poll
    • Politician interviews
I'm not sure if the issues can be fully inserted at this time. What can perhaps happen is point to a blog where these matters are fully discussed. Its url can be mentioned in the handbook.

To move forward with this handbook, we will need volunteers. To become one, you can post a comment and express:
  • Which item you'll be interested in writing about.
    • I'll be raising funds to cover some honorarium for the writers through sponsors.

  • Be a printing sponsor.
    • I assume that we will need like two thousand dollars (US$2000) to publish 1000 copies of a 92-pages handbook and that is inclusive of cover design/graphics/layout fee. Any amount that gets contributed will go a long way and be properly recognized in the publication.
If we want this to be out by middle of November, all manuscripts should be in by first week of October. If this is an area you will be interested to help out, let it be known. Cheers!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Philippines 2010 Elections Campaign Station in Social Networks

More and more Filipino Internet users are embracing social networks to connect with their peers, customers, and constituency. Last Thursday, I received a call from GMA 7 to be interviewed on the use of social networks by politicians.

Questions that were asked, as far as I can recall, includes:

  • What can you say about politicians exploiting social networks?
    My answer: I think exploit is not the appropriate word. It is more "taking advantage or maximizing it". I find most politicians to be late bloomers in using social networks in its current form.

    Earlier, those who thought of creating one simply posted their profiles and nothing more. People also get confused whether they are real or a fan simply created it. Furthermore, Internet users in this site often wonder if they are the ones really logging on.

  • Why are politicians tapping social networks now?
    It is to their advantage and an affordable medium as well. With so many Filipinos online, especially overseas who can vote, it is an effective medium to raise consciousness on issues. Whether they are able to engage the members or not, the mere fact that they are reachable is important. Especially if the social network account is for real, sincerity, and authenticity of its use.

  • With a politician having several accounts in one site, how would followers know that they are the real one?
    They should guard their identity online and request for removal of accounts that tends to mislead people. However, if they are clearly communicated as a fan or follower site, then that should not be a problem. What they can also do is post a link to social network site profiles from their home pages.
With the elections happening in 2010, politicians and the parties where they belong to should as early as now consider social networks as a virtual office to reach out to their constituency. If done correctly, it can be used to:
  • Discuss issues and pending policies that encourages citizens to take an active part. With more Filipinos getting disengaged in political discussion, this can be one way to reach out.

  • Show the human side. Politicians are still normal people like you and me. Having a social network profile, especially if set-up properly and actively used, shows a lot about the person and sheds some insight as well.

  • Use it to communicate. The problem with e-mail these days is the volume of spam that goes along with it. With social networks, members can send a correspondence directly to a politician and one must take an active effort in replying to them. Its beauty also is that all senders have a profile that allows a politician to catch a glimpse also of social network users.

For the latest Philippine news stories and videos, visit GMANews.TV

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Integrating election bloggers with mass media

Martin Perez posted an interesting question if there is a strategy in place of integrating the blogosphere with mass media in relation to the upcoming 2010 elections.

The idea of getting bloggers involved in the 2010 elections popped out after Manuel L. Quezon III's talk at iBlog3 and after observing how bloggers took a role in the 2007 elections where some even got the chance to join a campaign caravan.

I would like to believe that the premise where bloggers and mass media will integrate in the process will depend on how passionate, dedicated, well-researched, bold, and independent will bloggers be in their coverage of the upcoming elections. Those who will do and shine shall be recognized by mass media voluntarily.

On the other hand, I would like to predict that local and international mass media might also recruit bloggers for this purpose to ensure that they get those who can provide the best insights to compliment their existing news team who will cover it.

This in addition to politicians who will tap blogs and bloggers to push for their agenda and gradually engage themselves into the discussion. We can also expect politicians to have round table session with bloggers, similar to how they do it with the media. That facing the reality as well that bloggers will document their agreement or disagreement point blank through their blogs.

Short of saying, I'm wishful that everything will naturally fall into place.

On a personal level, I'm now concerned on how to get the following mobilized this year:

  • Bloggers election handbook. The idea for this one came from Luz Rimban during her talk at iBlog Mini last November 2007. Anyone interested to volunteer in creating this. Please post a comment and which area of the election handbook (suggesting content) will you be interested in contributing.

  • Educating the bloggers on Philippines election process. This is targeted on November 2008. Bloggers election handbook should be ready by this time for dissemination. The COMELEC and various election monitoring groups to be invited as resource persons and meet bloggers.

  • Putting the 2010 elections as one of the agendas in various blogging events. I'm sure there'll be more blogging forums and events happening this year. It will be helpful if this inevitable voting exercise can also be tackled to encourage bloggers to vent their perspective on politics through their blogs.
I'm hoping that with this in place, integration of the blogosphere with mass media will evolve naturally. A plus, rather than be limited to the few, will be the diversity of opinions coming from bloggers of various ages, socio-economic status, and parts of the country.

Just to add, some of the presentations given in relation to this topic.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

iBlog4 Afterglow

Every iBlog event has its own big bang as it features new and regular faces that reflects the growth of blogging and the community of bloggers.

My sincerest congratulations and thanks goes to JJ Disini, John Fajardo, and the UP-ISP team for continuing this advocacy year after year. Sponsors like Yehey, Morph Labs, WikiPilipinas, Alfox Computer Center, and Buddy Gancenia made this event feasible as well.

The participant kit this year includes sponsor collaterals, UP-ISP's Digital magazine special issue on blogging, and Wilson Ng's ENGY book.

Of course, iBlog4 is only possible with the interest of the community for this annual gathering year after year. Thank you for everyone's support!

Here are some of the coverage I found online and will continuously update this.

Footage of actual presentations:

Live blogging at the event:
  1. iBlog4 early morning stuff
  2. Liveblogging iBlog4
  3. Brian Gorrell's Advice to Bloggers
  4. Liveblogging iBlog4 - Part 2
  5. iBlog4, AM Session
  6. Why bloggers must blog about the election - Luz Rimban
  7. Manuel "Manolo" Quezon III's talk (iBlog4)
  8. Liveblogging iBlog4 - Part 3
  9. How can bloggers participate more effectively in the 2010 elections by Janette Toral
  10. Q & A Panel - Blogging about the 2010 Elections (iBlog4)
  11. 2 Immediate Legal Issues in Blogging and Q&A (by JJ Disini)
  12. Baklang AJ @ iBlog4
  13. On Site: iBlog4
  14. iBlog4 Forums
Video coverage
  1. Az video blog: iblog4 Philippine blogging summit coverage (YouTube)
  2. Lessons Learned from iBlog4
  3. iBlog4 Playlist for presentations that are more than 10 minutes
  4. iBlog4 Playlist for Presentation that are less than 10 minutes
  5. iBlog4 and 88DB.com party
  6. Counting Cokskiblue Cars. Meh. Aka The iBlog4 and Afterparty Vlog
Photo coverage
  1. iblog4: 4th Philippine Blogging Summit 2008 @ UP Diliman
  2. iBlog4 to 88db.com
  3. Jerome Quinto's iBlog4 Photos
  4. Azrael Coladilla's iBlog4 photos
  5. iBlog4: The 4th Philippine Blogging Summit at UP Diliman
  6. websaytko iBlog4 and 88db
  7. Dexter Panganiban pics @ iblog4 2008
  8. iBlog4 @ UP Diliman
  9. iBlog4 Portraits (full set)
  10. iBlog4: The 4th Philippine Blogging Summit
  11. iBlog4 Pictures
  12. iBlog4 Class Picture
iBlog4 reflections
  1. iBlog4 ramblings
  2. Snippets from the iBlog4 and 88db.com Bloggers Party
  3. Lost Money But Was Happy
  4. Being Offline is Fun
  5. iBlog4 and Morphxchange
  6. Avi Siwa at iBlog4
  7. iBlog4 experience
  8. Morph at iBlog4
  9. iBlog4 Summit
  10. iBlog4 Summit bloggers party with 88db.com
  11. iblog4 Summit
  12. iblog4 Blogging Summit and Meet Up
  13. Anger always come from frustrated expectations
  14. Umleo23.com at iBlog4 Summit???
  15. Unofficial Philippine Blogger Day
  16. So wassup?
  17. iBlog4, Altar Boyz Mosh Pit Party, Nick Weekend Carnival, & 88DB Bloggers Party
  18. iBlog4
  19. FilipinaImages.com in iBlog4 Summit
  20. iblog4 (old friends, new friends)
  21. Jester-in-Exile Goes to iBlog 4 and the 88DB.com Bloggers' Party (or, the floppy hat has gone out of style boohoohoo)
  22. iBlog 4 and The 88db.com Blogger’s Night: Because I Felt The Need To Embarass Myself More
  23. iblog4 Philippine Blogging Summit
  24. Of a very long week
  25. iblog4: the day after
  26. iBlog4 Summit
  27. Chickens invade iBlog4
  28. iBlog4 summit and 88db.com party
  29. Blog events
  30. The 4th Philippine Blogging Summit iBlog4
  31. Lost at iBlog4
  32. Rectal Discombobulation
  33. iblog4 Summit
  34. iblog 4 The Philippine Blogging Summit
  35. iBlog4 Part 1
  36. Resistance and Blogging
  37. Star Struck
  38. iBlog4 Summit @ UP
  39. 10 Things I Learned / Discovered at Iblog4
  40. Realizations from iBlog4 (part 1 of 2)
  41. iBlog4 Experience
  42. iBlog4 & 88DB.com Bloggers Night
  43. iBlog4
  44. iBlog4
  45. After iBlog4
  46. Episode 35: Counting CokskiBlue Cars. Meh. AKA The iBlog4 and Afterparty Vlog
  47. Web 2.0 at iblog 4 sa News on Q
  48. iBlog4 Summit 2008
  49. iBlog4 and 88DB Bloggers Party
  50. Version 11 and iBlog4
  51. iBlog 4 Roundup
  52. And Now, Thoughts Just Come Rushing In... RE: I-Blog 4
  53. I hate iBlog 4
  54. Ang Blog at ang Potensyal nito sa Bayan
  55. iBlog4
  56. The Coffee Table Report
  57. First time at iBlog4 Summit
  58. iBlogged
  59. My First Blogging Summit and the After Party
  60. Notes about iBlog4
  61. Gone Crazy at I Blog 4
  62. iBlog4 and the Bloggers Summer Party
  63. Another Year, Another iBlog4 Summit
  64. iBlog4: The 4th Philippine Blogging Summit
  65. iBlog4 and 88DB Party
  66. iBlog 4: Pass or Fail
  67. iBlog4 Notes
  68. Been to iBlog4
  69. Bakla Goes to iBlog4
  70. 4th Philippine Blogging Summit Part I
  71. 4th Philippine Blogging Summit Part II
  72. 4th Philippine Blogging Summit Part III
  73. Out there in a world called cyberspace
  74. iBlog4
  75. So I shall blog
  76. An iBlog4 question for Rimban, Quezon, and Toral
  77. I want to be a person of substance
  78. 3 Things I Learned from iBlog4
  79. Post-iBlog4 Thoughts
  80. Maver @ Malcolm

Friday, April 4, 2008

Looking for ARMM Election Bloggers

Hello everyone. In preparation for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) elections this August 11, 2008, I am currently looking for bloggers who can contribute in this blog from Tawi-Tawi, Lanao del Sur, Sulu, Basilan, and Maguindanao.

Expected posts to be submitted includes:

  • Congressional seat profile
  • Polling booth locations
  • Candidates information
    • Financial info
    • Activities (follow)
    • Campaign videos
  • Issues monitor
    • What are the critical issues in the upcoming elections?
    • 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 by candidates
    • Broad-idea based subjects (technology, financial aid, democracy, ethics, etc.)
    • Election-related news
      • Follow candidates
  • Polling or surveys published
    • Find citizens who have participated in polling and share their experience.
Payment is US$100 for every 20 approved articles. Please e-mail me at digitalfilipino (at) gmail (dot) com with your 1 page info, photo, contact information, and sample work.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Important Issue in Philippines Election 2010: Corruption and Accountability

Like most Filipinos who got to watch the correspondent episode "Kung Di Ukol, Bubukol" (1, 2, 3, 4), there's a great sense of pity and hopelessness on the situation of our country today.

The said episode showed how the relationship between China and the Philippines had improve in this present administration. This reminds me of the controversy that emerged on the acquisition of National Transmission Corporation by an RP-Chinese group where the closeness and bidding process was questioned.

The controversy sparked two issues that a presidential candidate must have a clear stand:

  • Does he or she perceived the partnership agreement to explore the Spratly Islands legitimate or constitutional? Will it be continued?
  • Will the current administration be investigated for corruption and if proven, make them liable for their acts?
Of course, voters who are in favor or not for the above concerns can make a decision on who they want to support.

Share your thoughts on important issues on the Philippines 2010 Elections today.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

From People Power to 2010 Elections

Many thanks to Lester for his post "Paalala ng Pasimuno ng People Power" as it gave me the necessary perk up to do this blog post.

People Power I
I have not participated or given support to People Power. I was raised in a family surrounded by relatives who appreciated the time of Ferdinand Marcos. So when the 1986 People Power revolution was happening, as expected, we were glued to pro-government TV programs at that time condemning the actions that were happening then. I was 15 years old.

A few months after People Power, government officials who were supportive started falling out. The political prisoners that were set free causing problems again to the administration and numerous coup attempts only made me think how much mess we were in (not knowing any better in analyzing the situation at that time).

People Power II
During the time of People Power II, I had strong faith with our legislative and judiciary handling the impeachment trial. I'm biased as the year 1999 and 2000 gave me the opportunity to bear witness the passage of the Y2K Law and E-Commerce Law. My faith, idealism, and appreciation of the legislative process and the people voted for was at its highest that time. I believed in due process and the rule of law. That belief though has further casted me out in certain circles, for not being supportive immediately gives you the identity of being pro-administration even if you are not.

When People Power II became victorious. I felt that our impatience will result to even greater suffering.

The clamor for people in power today for due process has no moral ground for a lot of them were the ones who short-circuit our rule of law way back. At the same time, those calling for another People Power, some of them were partly responsible for putting those people in power now and thus, the situation and hardship we are in.

Regardless on who is in power, due process, rule of law, and vigilance against corruption should prevail. Else, the power-grab and corruption cycle will never end. But of course, that is only my small and very unpopular opinion.

2010 Philippine Elections
I guess my above biases partly triggered the creation of this blog and the call for bloggers and Filipino Internet users to share their thoughts about the 2010 Philippine Elections.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Thank you: Cebu Bloggers and Planning for Visayan Bloggers Summit

Many thanks to Sun.Star (Nini Cabaero, Max Limpag, Marlen Limpag and the web team) for hosting the Cebu Bloggers Meet-Up last night at iBrowse Internet Cafe.

Here are some of the photos taken at the event. Please share your photos as well.

The meet-up program started around 7 pm with Nini Cabaero giving a welcome to everyone. Afterwards, i presented the idea of bloggers participating actively in the Philippines 2010 elections, issues that were raised to date, and encouraging everyone to collate and create a matrix of issues on the local level.

Marlen Limpag also shared Sun.Star's experience in doing election coverage and challenges that they encountered with it.

During the open forum, every participant shared their insights and hope they will blog about it. I will link them here once they have posted.

Another thing being thought now is the organization of a Visayan Bloggers Summit this August to get bloggers in the region together, be connected, and exchange insights on a variety of topics (from learning to blog, earning from blogging, photoblogging, vlogging, podcasting, and of course political blogging). If this idea sparks your interest and will be interested to help out, hope you can leave a comment here.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

February 7: Cebu Bloggers Meet-Up

Late last year, I have been chatting with Max Limpag about Blogging for the Philippines 2010 Elections and agreed to organize a similar session in Cebu. Finally, here it is.

Thanks to Sun.Star, we will be having a small bloggers get together hoping to share developments about this. This will be at I-Browse Internet Cafe, Ground Floor, Quest Homes Dormitory beside Cebu Doctor's University (fronting Sun Gold Marketing) North Reclamation Area, Cebu City.

Program outline shall be as follows:

6:00-6:15 pm Registration
6:15 - 6:30 Bloggers introduction
6:30 - 7:00 Blogging and the Philippines 2010 Elections
7:00 - 7:30 Sun.Star Blogging Initiatives and Experience
7:30 onwards discussion

This small meet-up is free. Kindly leave a comment here or at Max Limpag's blog to confirm your attendance. Thank you.

Monday, January 28, 2008

My FAQ on Election Blogging in the Philippines

Here are some questions I get to receive on the subject of election blogging in the Philippines. Feel free to share your insights.

1. Can you tell us what's been going on in the blogosphere (and the Internet) with regards to politics / 2010 elections?

Movements in the blogosphere has started as early as last year. We will see more ordinary citizens (e.g. Kevin Ray Chua, Team Gordon 2010) putting up blogs to support a particular candidate. In addition, news media (e.g. Inquirer) shall be preparing their site for this purpose as early as now.

I think we live in a time where there is growing concern on where our country is heading. Admittedly, a lot of us are passive and even numb when it comes to discussion of politics. However, there is a unique opportunity to discuss the issues and concerns this year since the political players in the coming election are still not clear. Hopefully, with more bloggers and Internet users participating, we can have a healthy exchange of ideas and learn from each other.

2. Is this something new? Or has it been going on for quite some time?

It is not new. Every time there is an upcoming election, we've seen blogs and even websites coming out with an attempt to provide coverage. Although I am not keen on election sites launched a few months before the election as they tend to profit or take advantage by asking candidates to pay for a prime advertising spot.

3. Is this something we're seeing only in the Philippines?

Not really. We've seen election coverage by bloggers happening in other parts of the world such as the U.S., Australia, among others.

4. Who reads these blogs / websites?

Traditional readers of these blogs are people who are passionate about politics, supporters of politicians, the media, the candidates, and some of the voters too.

5. What are the other trends or the next big thing in the blogosphere / Internet this 2008?

There are many predictions in this area and it includes:
  • Increase in the number of bloggers who'll be hosting their blogs within social networks.
  • Companies to use blogs for information dissemination.
  • Continuous growth in the video and podcast blogging space.
  • On the infrastructure side, availability of wireless Internet to get better and much more affordable this year.
6. What kind of info do you see bloggers giving out there to fill the gap/vacuum? Will you go as far as endorsing candidates since blogs are opinion sites?

There will be bloggers who'll come forward to endorse candidates and share why they are supporting or voting them. However, if there will be a blogging advocacy, individuals and groups may take the effort of bringing local issues forward that is also relevant, although mostly unheard, for most of us.

For instance, I used to live in San Juan. During elections, there's not much information going around on important issues, if there's any, that should guide me when choosing officials to vote for at the local level. I remember just ticking on names of councilors just to fill-up the form even if I haven't heard most of them (with bias to independent candidates).

7. How can we, the readers, know that a particular blogger is not implying his or her endorsement or favoring a candidate when they are presenting issues? (We all know even print opinion writers do that and weave around beautifully.) How can you prove valid someone is inventing issues or spreading black propaganda for political purposes?

The beauty of blogs, its being open in nature, we can call the attention of bloggers to point out a bias in perspective and even questionable facts. In politics, especially elections, we are all entitled to our own opinion as our votes are equal. I guess it can't be helped as well if one's perspective is supportive of another candidate as that politician may have influenced it. What is important maybe is for one to come out clean on who they are supporting, assuming they have made their mind already.

8. Can't the blogger "edit" the feedback he gets or even delete entries all together? (say he doesn't like a comment)

I'm not sure on editing a blog comment as I haven't seen one that allows such. If a blogger suppresses the opinion of a reader, they face the risk of being found out since the reader can approach other sites to post their insight, as long as they permit, or even put up their own blog to express their thoughts. The determined ones will definitely find a way to get their point across.

9. Blogs are viewed as potent tool also for smear campaign against a candidate. Damage has been done especially if read by hundreds or thousands. Are there measures to at least protect the concerned parties?

Any politician running for public office should have a crisis strategy I supposed. That is where having a website or blog where they can interact with readers and answer question can be of help. There are still a lot of readers who don't just believe in everything they read and will definitely welcome an answer or explanation to any accusation. For as long as that is online and available, readers will check it out and pass on the information. It is likely that interested bloggers will link to both sides and give their opinion.

Of course, the candidate can also fight for themselves by filing a lawsuit and request for a temporary restraining order.

10. I understand that in the U.S., Internet or blogs are viewed as major fund-raising source. Does it apply also in the Philippines? If so, how is it done?

It can also apply in the Philippines but the requirement on Section 99 may make it hard. It is like what if a citizen made a small donation, like P100 to P500, my understanding of the Omnibus Election Code is that the donor is required to go to COMELEC and make a report declaration under oath.

11. How do you organize and educate bloggers for election then? How the blogger, the very public we serve be trained to report a election news?

Concerned bloggers from anywhere in the country can do their share by allotting a blog post about it once in awhile. Forums or seminars (e.g. iBlog, Blog and Soul, Bloggers Kapihan, Mindanao Blogging Summit) giving information to bloggers on election issues can be of help too. Most of this are informal in nature, organized by bloggers themselves, and perhaps that is the way to go.

I also hope that this is one activity that election monitoring groups should seriously consider as there are a lot of bloggers willing to help but don't know how to go about it.

12. How far bloggers can shape public opinion? Just wondering whether clutter of information from bloggers would aid the quality of public discourse or discussion. Do you personally think blogging about elections, at least here in the Philippines, will have a SIGNIFICANT IMPACT on the campaigns? The Filipino Internet User base - its not even assumed they all check out political blogs. Most use the Internet still for emailing, YouTube-ing, Friendster, Multiply, Facebook, etc, etc...

I believe in the premise that each one of us have the capability to influence other people. If the blog post that has the intent of relaying critical election issues goes out and gets read, it may directly or indirectly pass on the information to whoever reads it, and consciously or subconsciously shape their opinion. Getting more bloggers to participate is the key.

Also, blogs today are no longer limited to independent or mainstream blogs. Equally (or even more) important are social networks who have blog or blog related features integrated in them.

It will only have an impact if the Filipino Internet user will allot time or post sharing their opinion about what matters to them in the upcoming election. It is a way to start the discussion where we can also learn from each other in the process.

13. Is there a discipline being followed by bloggers when it comes to coming out with articles?

I noticed that bloggers usually adjust to the community where they identify themselves to and adhere to the practices being followed by their recognized peers.

14. Is there an agency monitoring what's being placed in a blog?

There is none at the moment.

15. You said earlier that a blog site can be shut down if there are complaints against the site. Who has the authority to shut down a site?

If it is a free site, then the one who owns the service can opt to terminate it. If it is a private site, then that would be the web hosting provider. The complainant can report an erring site and cite the reason why it should be shut down such as publishing false information or a violation to the terms of service of the provider. Another option of the complainant is to file a case and seek for a temporary restraining order.

16. How the citizen journalism media keep the high standards of gate-keeping and principle of journalism?

On a pro-active level, interested bloggers can release guidelines so that bloggers who are interested in doing citizen journalism shall have a reference. The check-and-balance normally occurs at the community level where fellow bloggers and readers can call each other's attention or give suggestions for the improvement of one's story presentation.

17. What's the latest data on Internet access among households in the Philippines?

On the conservative side, the estimated number of Internet users today is around 20 million.

18. Are there any studies the effect of an online presence (e.g. blogs, websites, Friendster) on the campaigns of certain candidates?

There is no study on the direct relationship and effect of social networks and political candidates. But it can be said that social networks, being popular with Filipino Internet users today, can provide any politician a venue to reach out to its target market. It has to be done sincerely though in order to be appreciated, rather than be considered as an act of spamming.

19. How bloggers affected the voting of Senators Trillanes, Escudero, and Pangilinan who used the Internet?

Their presence, even through their Internet representatives, helped in generating recall. Moreso if they are known as real or active Internet users which the three are. The Internet community may have helped them and a small segment of that are bloggers.

In the case of Senator Chiz Escudero, I remember covering a live chat event where he was the resource person and I blogged about it. That gave a positive impression for being reachable as his responses was spontaneous.

Senator Francis Kiko Pangilinan was already Internet-savvy even before he became a full-fledge politician. I recall that he was the only candidate who tagged along well-established bloggers to join and cover his election campaign caravan.

Senator Antonio Trillanes supporters used various online media to promote him during the campaign. I guess the principles that he stood for at that time got a lot of response and it was a simple way for the people to say that the vote given to him shall serve as a reminder of people's concern on corruption in government.

20. Do you agree with journalists having blogs?

Yes, I believe that journalists get to see so many things behind the scenes that doesn't get reported or included in their stories. They see a lot of things that ordinary citizens like us don't know and may have insights worth sharing.

21. What about libel? Has a blogger been charged for libel?

There were a few libel cases in the past that dwell on intrusion to privacy filed against an investigate media blog, grievances by customers against a pre-need company, libel case against service providers on blog comments.

22. Is this initiative getting any attention from the media and encouragement from bloggers?

Yes, in addition to insights sharing, this effort is also getting attention from the media and fellow bloggers alike. Such as:I hope this helps.