By Rey Anthony Chiu | 10:17 AM February 19, 2022
Youth leaders and key sector representatives including chief of offices of the local government unit here converged here to map out areas where they can make this upcoming election an accountability platform to the dreamed reform.
Making the 2022 election campaign as a venue for exacting transparency, accountability, and citizens participation has been a tradition here in San Miguel, after Ateneo School of Governance (ASOG) brought in and instituted the Government Watch (G-Watch) project here in 2010, says Analyn Estella, G-Watch coordinator and local convenor.
Established as a social accountability program of ASOG in response to claims of massive corruption in government, G-Watch stepped into the dangerous frontiers of social accountability of officials by way of citizens monitoring especially in the field of public service delivery.
First implemented as a community-based citizen monitoring program when the government implemented the Rice Subsidy program, G-Watch here has also successfully monitored Bohol Earthquake Assistance Program implementation and several other key programs with funds from the national government and international donors.
The decades-old program is in fact now shifting to an independent research organization, but San Miguel’s GWatch promises to keep their bond aiming to contribute in making democracy more meaningful through scaling of accountability, transparency and people empowerment.
In his welcome message, Mayor Virgilio Mendez challenged the local GWatch team to get to the task on hand with deliberate intention to serve the people, and make those who need to account for sloppy delivery of service pay.
He also asked the media to help in the task of information dissemination to be impartial and elevate the public discourse for over-all development.
Now with a good number of trained and empowered citizen monitors, GWatch in San Miguel is poised to tread into yet another equally demanding task in line with GWatch’s core Initiative by advancing election awareness.
Here, the task is to keep on candidate’s track record and platform, as well as other factors that could
help the people of the town smartly pick their leaders.
The “Tamang Impormasyon Para sa Makabuluhang Eleksyon: G-Watch’s 2022 Ako, Ikaw, Tayo May Pananagutan” Awareness-Raising Campaign is an attempt of the town’s empowered populace to ferret out accurate, verifiable, complete and clear information of the candidates and their platforms as a pre-requisite of accountability.
The goal for demanding accountability however is now seriously threatened by a seriously flawed election culture and the liberalization of the social media being used as a source of disinformation and misinformation.
On this, the awareness raising campaign dealt on determining fake news and information as well as keeping a system of verification and fact checking by the Philippine Information Agency, the moral and ethical aspects of fake news and information with Rev Fr. Celedonio Salazar, the implications of fake news and the elections with Municipal Commission in Elections Registrar Arna Aura Arcamo and the legal measures against sharing of fake news by former National Bureau of Investigation official Atty Glen Damasing.
A recent Pulse Asia survey says almost half of Filipinos get their news via the internet, specifically Facebook.
Another study released in 2018 maps the network of disinformation in the Philippines and reveals a network of digital workers designing political disinformation campaigns, authoring fake news and fanning the flames of public discontent in the Philippines.
Over this, the urgency of discerning good and credible information and determining fake news allows citizens to understand the motivation and interests behind fake news and disinformation and affords them the capacity to weigh in on their choices, over the traditional sway of vote-buying.
In this light, G-Watch San Miguel undertook a citizenship education initiative that aims to Make Elections an Accountability Platform (MEAP), by taking the use of information to make elections an accountability platform, underscoring the need to fight disinformation and fake news, Estella said. (rahc/PIA-7/Bohol)