Mong Palatino

blogging about the philippine left and southeast asian politics since 2004


@mongster is a manila-based activist, former philippine legislator, and blogger/analyst of asia-pacific affairs.

Written in 2007….

Not a few candidates have been tapping the internet to bolster their chances of winning in the elections. While many analysts look down on the effectiveness of online campaigning, politicians could no longer ignore the cyber community. TV ads may give the best nationwide exposure for candidates but the internet can provide the most stylish link to young and educated voters.

There are more than ten million internet users in the country. This figure should be enough to make politicians understand the value of reaching out to this growing online community of literate individuals. Guns, goons and gold may continue to dominate Philippine elections but there is a segment of our population which demands a more intelligent way of campaigning. Indeed, politicians must continue to adopt traditional forms of campaigning if they want to get the attention of majority of our voters but there is no harm in trying to be more fashionable or tech-savvy during the campaign period.

Politicians must appreciate the enormous potential of the internet to influence the political landscape in the country. In the future, it may emerge as the most credible source of information. Accessing the web may become a daily necessity for Filipinos. Ten years ago, did we expect texting to alter communication habits of our countrymen?

This year’s election is significant since we witnessed how some candidates successfully maximized technological innovations to run their respective campaigns. We also realized how these amazing technologies can be used to push for clean, honest and peaceful elections.

Candidates have learned to set-up personal websites, friendster accounts, wiki profiles and blogs. Their supporters have been frequenting social networking sites. Unfortunately, they also send e-mail and text spams which may prove unproductive to their candidacies. Video ads of politicians and partylist groups have been uploaded in You Tube. A few candidates also conducted chat sessions with internet users.

However, some politicians began using the internet only as a token gesture of projecting a trendy image to the public. This is an insincere publicity stunt. This also shows a lack of awareness on how online campaigning can actually improve the efficiency of election machineries of candidates. It’s not just going online that matters. It’s much more significant to learn how to synergize internet campaigning with traditional election tactics.
National coordination of campaign activities can be easily accomplished through internet, downloading of election materials can be done via email, consolidating members and supporters can be facilitated by instant messaging. Internet campaigning should not be treated as a special election tactic. It must be integrated with the overall election strategy of politicians.

As a tool to promote democratic elections, internet is indispensable. Internet users have gained notoriety for giving fiery feedback to the online campaigning of candidates. Some gave encouraging support for politicians; some used unflattering remarks against certain candidates. Some established blogs to campaign for the defeat of celebrity actors.

What is inspiring is the high number of election-related websites and blog articles which aim to educate voters. Anyone can easily access informative websites and blogs which provide useful links to the profile of candidates, platform of political parties, track record of incumbent politicians and resources that are pertinent in guarding the sanctity of our votes. NGOs have been consistent in uploading their reports on electoral violations, media bias and election spending of candidates. Even the Church is using the internet to guide the people in choosing the best leaders for the country. These are all necessary in promoting responsible voting next month.

It’s already impossible to imagine how elections can be conducted without the internet. It’s both necessary for politicians and the voters. I believe there are still many ways to maximize the internet which we have not yet conceptualized. Perhaps this potential will be realized in the next few years.

There may be two stumbling blocks to fulfill this vision. One is the tendency to abuse the internet. Politicians with lots of money may attempt to influence naive voters by swamping the web with false information and deceitful campaign messages. It may erode the credibility of internet as a source of valid data. Some immature voters may post unreliable content materials just to further the campaign of a favored candidate.

The other obstacle is limited internet access throughout the country. Online campaigning requires a literate population with access to computers and internet connection. This remains a wishful thinking for a poor country known for its weak IT infrastructure and shabby education system.

It may be a while before we have to rely heavily on the internet to successfully campaign for the victory of candidates. For now, we have to endure (read: suffer) watching those boring and dumb TV ads of politicians.

Related articles:

Senate race: A virtual campaign

2 Responses to “Internet and elections”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Tonyo Cruz, mong palatino. mong palatino said: blogpost: internet and philippine elections: […]

    Tweets that mention Mong Palatino » Blog Archive » Internet and elections --

  2. mong, may twitter ka?


Leave a Reply