Netizens to play big role in 2016 polls
Janvic Mateo (The Philippine Star) - September 25, 2015 - 10:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The roughly 40 million Filipinos connected to the Internet will play a big role in the upcoming presidential elections, new media advocates said at the launch of social media coverage of the 2016 elections.

Blogger and columnist Tonyo Cruz said netizens would have the power to set the political atmosphere and agenda in the months leading to the polls.

“The number of Filipino netizens has already doubled (since the last presidential elections), from 20 million Filipinos with Internet access in 2010 to around 40 million in 2015… There is a changing landscape,” Cruz said during the kick-off last Thursday of the iVote, iWatch, a social media campaign that will enable netizens to contribute election-related content to its citizen media platform at blogwatch.tv.

Cruz noted that there are more tools available for Filipinos to actively participate in monitoring the elections, as well as in setting the talking points during the campaign season.

He listed several issues which he said are close to the hearts of netizens. These include the calls for better Internet connection and the campaign to address the “digital divide” in the Philippines.

The blogger, known for his numerous advocacies, said netizens would also press the candidates to junk the cybercrime prevention law, as well as tackle issues such as disaster relief, transportation, tax relief, pork barrel and support for athletes and overseas Filipino workers.

“These are issues that are important for netizens,” he said, stressing that this poses a challenge to candidates to actually present their plan, not just their stand, on how they would address these issues if elected.

Noemi Lardizabal-Dado, co-founder of Blog Watch, said new technologies also offer an opportunity for Filipinos to actively participate in covering the upcoming elections.

Blog Watch partnered with The Philippine Online Chronicles and Vibal Foundation to launch iVote, iWatch.

The group will also tap people behind popular online campaigns such as #juanvote and #EpalWatch to provide a comprehensive picture of the elections from the eyes of netizens and citizens on the ground.

Jane Uymatiao, another founder of Blog Watch, urged the youth to take part not just in the actual voting, but also in monitoring the campaign and the elections.

“If the youth are not concerned, we will have a problem. They are the majority, they are the next generation. If they are the ones who are apathetic, then we will have a problem,” she said.

ACIRC BLOG WATCH BLOGGER CAMPAIGN CRUZ ELECTIONS JANE UYMATIAO NETIZENS NOEMI LARDIZABAL-DADO PHILIPPINE ONLINE CHRONICLES AND VIBAL FOUNDATION TONYO CRUZ
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