"In societies where Robbing Hoods are treated like a celebrity it is but natural to expect political parties to act like a Mafia syndicate" Political Jaywalker "In a nation where corruption is endemic people tend to confuse due process with aiding and abetting criminals" Political Jaywalker "War doesn't determine who is right, war determines who is left" Bertrand Russell "You have just one flash flood of money, you keep your people poor. It's like a time bomb and it's scary" Philippine Lawmaker

The Internet and the 2007 Philippine Election

Is it a good thing or a bad thing? You decide where and how it will go depending on how far your imagination will take you. The only thing that will stop you is your desire and willingness how far you will take it. Hop on in the jeepney, let’s all take the journey in the dawning of a new beginning.

While checking on the progress of mybloglog account I found this interesting article of Stelify an Internet Blogger in mybloglog community who had something to say about the Internet usage and it’s relation to the 2007 Philippine election.

Her take is very refreshing citing 7 million Internet users with 1.1 million estimated active users in the Philippines which is really a sizeable number that it is surprising why up to this point not a lot of traditional politicians (I am glad they are not and hopefully never as in never ever in our lifetime and future generations to come, hahaha) venture into this realm. Although there are quite a few who personally interacts with online Filipinos most of them delegate this to their paid hacks errrr IT person who don’t know any better than just send the message of their bosses. Who knows if these paid minions are actually giving any feedback or none whatsoever to their bosses or if they even care to know the pulse of the online Filipino community?

Rep. Jun Lozada (unfortunately loss to that self confessed Jose Pidal but will not allow anyone to look into his finances because it was supposedly a violation of his “privacy”, yeah sure only in da pilipit island) is one who during the height of the Absentee Voting advocacy of Overseas Filipinos was actively involve with the online Overseas Filipino Community helping out in the passage of the AV Law.

Stelify took on the question of how the internet technology will impact the political campaign in the election in May and she may be right. Unfortunately, fraud is the biggest stumbling block in our electoral process and whatever numbers a candidate can garner through the online world will just get negated easily, to quote Stelify:

“Call me jaded or a betrayer of the great equalizer that is the Internet (or some equally idealistic phrase that praises the Web’s social structure), but that is not the point.

If cheating is rampant—which it is, no matter what anybody says—no Internet exposure or any other sort of exposure will prevail over the tampering of the ballot count. A candidate would be better off dedicating his/her resources to poll watchers. Losing by a hairline could also mean he/she might have won by a hairline if cheating were minimized. (Obliterated? That might not be possible anywhere in the world.)”

While I tend to agree with Stelify my concern is not really on how candidates in this coming election are able to effectively utilize the online community in the Philippines and those outside of the country but how the online Overseas Filipino communities can make a difference in this election. The online world is our domain and our best asset in political empowerment and to include the politicians as I have said is not a good proposition. We are all aware how they have bastardized the fourth estate’s independence corrupted by what is now popularly known as “envelopmental” journalism. The problem is they are with us and will stay with us forever if we don’t act now or forever be at their mercy in their brand of corrupted politics.

Philippine lie papers errr newspapers of today are filled with articles that are so biased or kiss assed praise release disguised as news item depending on where the publishers and their journalist loyalties are. Don’t ask me who and where some of the so-called journalist and publisher loyalties are…….. you can never go wrong if you look down just a bit by looking at their pockets and high style of living, hehehe.

Not everything is gloomy though, newspaper are catching up with internet pod casting, website hosting, and blogging giving the online community a glimpse of what these candidates are saying which at times are basically nothing, empty, hollow, zip, nada, zilch for lack of substance or their tendency to “idiotize” their viewers perhaps, a hangover on a bad habit from the idiot box we call television. The tendency to insult their viewers or is it because they have no platform of governance to begin with that as much as we want them to bring up the level of their campaign they cling to these bad habit since it has worked before why will they do anything different this time around. The good thing about it is while you have to rummage through the muck there are some good info from time to time that are unbiased and balanced that makes it easier for an informed decision.

Technology indeed has improved and widened politicians audience, instantaneous at the click of a mouse gives the Overseas Filipinos update on what is going on in the Philippines. Unlike in the past where Overseas Filipinos settle for stale TV news that is 3 days to a week old to watch Filipino news or settle for the Xerox news of local opinionated Filipino newspapers that are as stale owing to its limited circulation. The world of technology has come a long way; sadly our politicians are stuck in the medieval age of semi feudal patronage and personality politics.

Amidst all these developments the underlying issue is whether we should concern ourselves on how the candidates should utilize technology or how the online community should utilize technology in gathering much needed information on the state of our electoral process. In a private email sent to this author errrr urot was one very sensible concrete perspective coming from a longtime OAVL advocate Gil Ramos, PhD. Which I quote:

The real issue in the coming elections is whether the institutions of the country and its dynamics with the prevailing 'culture' can sustain a process of selecting public leaders that would have some degree of credibility to warrant claims that we are still indeed a democracy.

The candidacies of the opposition figures and other independents are only minute incidentals to this underlying transcendental issue of holding credible and clean elections.

Therefore claims of the opposition that they are better than Gloria and her cohorts and issues such as adequate representation for OFW's in the senate pales like starlight in the presence of the 'blazing sun' issue of whether we will have credible elections or not.

In this context vigilance assumes a more textured meaning and the corollary of sanctions that an angered people must exact from those who have done them wrong becomes most significant.

Vigilance should mean developing scientific benchmarks which will prove beyond scientific and mathematical doubt that widespread cheating (if and when it happens) indeed took place in this 2007 midterm elections.

And more importantly, preparations should be underway this early to enable a process of SANCTIONS that would RESTORE democracy when indeed a failure of elections happens. OFW's can better use their limited resources in supporting such an effort rather than being distracted by pipedream efforts of putting up or supporting candidates in a playing field that’s marred by a tendency for fraud.”
Given all these the real question then is not how the candidates should utilize what technology has to offer but how can the online Filipino community prevent the re-occurrence of fraud that marred the last election. These early we can see very familiar trends of squandering unimaginable sums of money, millions if not billions are poured left and right in their mad dash for power. The promotion of Team Garci (the ones working under and with him as operators errr commissioner) and the military officers alluded to in the infamous garci tape by La Presidenta whose very tenure allegedly benefited from that team tells you something is cooking and they are not even from Macao. Vigilance indeed is what we need as Gil Ramos’ puts it……….. its right in front of us the keyboard and monitor through information gathering and sharing we can do our share in helping electorates come up with informed decisions in these coming Election.

Some hopeless apathetic wags will tell you in their elitist feeling superior above the rest of the masses of how a “clueless” Filipino (as if they know any better) understands this. Guess what; if you can’t figure out a way to send the message across and just keeps on whining don’t you think you are the one with a problem? There are 500K registered Overseas Filipinos voters; they did not register because it is a fad it is because they care. What do think will happen if they talk to just 1 relative back home, that’s a total of 1 million votes? Well think again, do you think they will just talk to 1? How about 2 or 3 or even more than three? What about the 7.5 million who did not register? What if they by any stroke of miracle set aside their dancing shoes, puwit ng baso tiaras and sashes for 30 minutes or so talk to people instead back home, will it not create a groundswell to turn the tide in this election? Last but not least what if our kababayan aboard errr abroad suddenly realized that they can’t all be leaders at the same time, with some luck their ego just got deflated and found out (duh) that in order to be a good leader you have to be a good follower first?

All it needs is a little follow up after the election and some organization and pretty soon we can have a collective vigilant response should cheating prevail once more. Instead of whining and complaining we can get our feet wet and prevent these from happening, why not we are wired aren’t we?

How about it? Are we ready to rock and roll and shake the very foundation of the corrupt electoral process? Hop on in the Jeep of progress towards a clean and honest election, let them know we are not just watching but also comparing notes. This internet is a great equalizing and democratizing factor where rich and poor alike are on equal footing, let us not waste the opportunity to change things for the better.
“Dyip” photo courtesy of Andre Cawagas an artistic rendition that
evokes hope.

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