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Philippine Commission on Elections Partners with Tech to Empower Voters

Image credit: pna.gov.ph

The Comelec is the principal government agency tasked by the country’s constitution to enforce and administer all laws and regulations concerning the conduct of regular and special elections. In short, it has to ensure that the transition to any new administration is smooth. And the commission is taking this mandate very seriously.

“Part of Comelec’s mission is to empower voters with accurate, relevant and timely information,”

– Director James Jimenez, Commission on Elections Spokesperson

A first in the history of Philippine national elections, the commission is partnering with a tech company to help guide voters to fact-check information regarding the upcoming May 9 polls. It will do this by providing key data about the election on the company’s video-sharing platform, one of the major social media platforms used in the country. Specifically, the video platform will include election information panels that will show up on top of search results when users look for the names of candidates. It will provide material on the candidates, their political parties, the position they are running for and other such relevant content.

When users log on to the platform and search for a candidate name, they will encounter the essential information about the candidate first as provided by the platform. Moreover, there will be a “how to vote” information panel and links to the Comelec website.

Jimenez has lauded the tech company in a recent virtual press briefing, commending them for taking important steps in helping Filipinos access authoritative information that is essential for an informed electorate.

The company’s Vice President for product management shared that they have added the features knowing that politics can be subject to misinformation and recognise that the availability of authoritative information sources is crucial. Additionally, the executive shared that the company has made sizable investments over the last years to make its platform become a more reliable source for news while also maintaining the openness of the platform.

They are focused on making their digital platform a vibrant and safe community for a healthy political discourse as well as helping protect the integrity of elections. As part of this drive for transparency and veracity, she revealed that from February 2021 to January 2022, over 400,000 videos uploaded from the Philippines were removed from their platform for violating community guidelines.

An Asia Pacific executive of the company reiterated that fighting misinformation was important to the organisation. As it takes the whole of society to work together to address it, they are committed to continuing to forge meaningful partnerships with the media and community groups to help people access the right information. That way, people can make an informed vote in the upcoming elections.

By partnering with the private sector for technology, the Philippine government shows the value of relying on digital transformation to pave the way forward. Certainly, digital services can make the lives of Filipinos a lot better. As reported on OpenGov Asia, Very Small Aperture Transmitters (VSATs) were recently deployed by government operatives to provide needed internet and communication services to typhoon-hit areas in Siargao, one of the country’s southern islands.

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