Boto mo, Ipatrol Mo: Ako Ang Simula
() - April 11, 2010 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Elections are widely recognized as being among the most vulnerable processes in Philippine democracy. It has always been regarded as something that can be subjected to manipulation, almost always marred by violence, and rarely insulated from the nuances of patronage politics.

This is a tragedy because the Philippines has always guarded zealously its democracy, and its people have, on numerous times, risen to the occasion to defend this system. It is then foolish to keep our election system rotting the way it is, and to allow our people to keep doubting the integrity of the processes through which we install our leaders, and the processes through which we hand these leaders the mandate to govern and lead us.

Despite numerous attempts at modernization, elections and related processes like voter registration have, for the longest time, remained crude and chaotic. The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has shown serious resolve to change this. Whether it succeeded in doing so is a different matter altogether.

We don’t know for sure. But that is precisely the point. We will never know for sure. Too many failed attempts may have made our people skeptical – maybe even apathetic – to the possibility of change. But if we allow ourselves to be too afraid to believe in anything to make it worth trying, maybe we will never know.

“Ako ang Simula,” the tagline of the Boto Mo, iPatrol Mo (BMPM) campaign for the 2010 elections, wants to do exactly that: To make every citizen realize that the electoral – and as a byproduct, possibly even the societal – change he has been aspiring for begins with him.

By encouraging this citizen to use the technology he’s comfortable with to patrol his vote, BMPM is empowering him to participate more actively in elections, and in a larger sense, democracy.

What is BMPM?

Boto Mo, iPatrol Mo: Ako ang Simula (BMPM) is an election-focused citizen journalism campaign. Its goal is to render citizens active participants in monitoring electoral processes such as voter registration, campaigning, ballot casting and counting. By doing this BMPM hopes to ensure greater transparency and fairness during the 2010 elections.

What is a Boto Patroller?

A BOTO PATROLLER is an active supporter and member of the Boto Mo, iPatrol Mo: Ako Ang Simula movement. Nationwide registrations to date stand at 73,000, while there is another informal community of about 50,000 Boto Patrollers online from the combined fans and users in BMPM’s Facebook and Multiply accounts, and website.

Patrollers can use their mobile phones, camcorders, digital cameras, computers or any gadget and gizmo to record and post their reports on the ABS-CBN sites for user-generated contents created exclusively for their use. Their reports may also be used for news stories that may be carried by ABS-CBN news programs and platforms.

How do citizens become Boto Patrollers?

A citizen becomes a Boto Patroller by registering at any of ABS-CBN’s registration points. There are manual registration booths set up in 20 different cities and provinces. Also, manual registration booths are available in all BMPM workshops, which are held at various locations across the country.

Citizens can also register to be Boto Patrollers online at abs-cbnnews.com, and by clicking on the “Create New Account” icon. Registration can also be done through text message by texting: REG(SPACE)BMPM(SPACE)NAME/AGE/GENDER/ADDRESS to 2366 (for Globe, Sun and Bayan phone holders) or to 231 (Smart and Talk N’ Text phone holders) from a mobile phone.

What does a Boto Patroller do?

Patrollers keep an eye on election-related irregularities in their communities. This could have been an instance of early campaigning, or problems during voter registration. Also, during times of national crisis, like they did during typhoons “Ondoy” and “Pepeng,” Boto Patrollers may submit reports about the status of their communities in relation to the crisis.

Patrollers can submit reports in a variety of ways. They can email them to ireport@abs-cbn.com. Reports can also be uploaded to the BMPM site bmpm.abs-cbnnews.com.

Patrollers can also text or send MMS reports to 2366 (type IREPORT<space>name, address, age, gender), or leave a 30-second voice message on the BMPM-Bayan answering machine system by calling (02) 411-BMPM or 411-2676.

On the Internet, BMPM may be found at botomoipatrol.multiply.com, and for Facebook: Boto Mo iPatrol Mo: Ako ang Simula (Official Page).  

Over the past 10 months, these Boto Patrollers have demonstrated their willingness to partake in the burden that comes with a vibrant democracy. They have submitted many tips and news materials even during those times when it was apparently inconvenient for them to do so.  

This gives meaning to aspirations that citizens will rise to the occasion of serving their country and protecting its democratic institutions. The interactions between and among these Boto Patrollers give rise to a giant and on-going conversation on election-related community updates and alerts that puts everyone on the same page when it comes to where we are going with these elections.  

BMPM is all about citizens sharing what they’re witnessing in their communities, it’s about the media handing them the megaphone to share these experiences. It’s all about citizens speaking up, and taking back the lead in conversations. It’s about change, and all its beautiful possibilities.

The Philippine STAR/STARweek is the print media partner of Boto Mo iPatrol Mo. This article is based on a primer written by Arlene Burgos, BMPM: Ako ang Simula New Media Manager, and Beth Morrissey, Princeton-in-Asia Fellow at the ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs.

Editor’s note: Every Sunday until the Sunday before election day, we will run articles on the different aspects of the May 10 polls, including the automated election system itself and the machine, how to vote, what to do and what not to do, the citizen’s role, and others. This series is an initiative of STARweek in cooperation with non-partisan groups, and does not involve any politician or political party. Readers may send in questions and comments by email to starweek.events@gmail.com.

ABS AKO ANG SIMULA ARLENE BURGOS BMPM BOTO BOTO MO BOTO PATROLLER BOTO PATROLLERS PATROLLERS
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